China: World class 中国成为最聪明的国家

詞匯: 教育與成功 Vocabulary: education and success

Image copyright BBC World Service

Is China the world's cleverest country?

China achieved 'remarkable' results in the Pisa international education tests, which measure pupils' key skills: reading, numeracy and science.

The results indicate that China's education system is not only above average, it's overtaking the performance of many Western countries. But why do Chinese students get top marks?

Andreas Schleicher, who is responsible for the Pisa tests, says Chinese students show incredible resilience to become high-flyers, regardless of their background. "North Americans tell you typically it's all luck. In Europe, it's all about social heritage: 'My father was a plumber so I'm going to be a plumber.' In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: 'It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard.'"

Mr Schleicher adds it's a philosophical difference – we should expect the whole cohort to pass with flying colours, rather than just expecting the cream of the crop to succeed.

On a visit to a poor province in China, he noticed that schools were often the most impressive buildings. He says in the West, it's more likely to be a shopping centre.

So should other countries put their thinking caps on if they don't want their education system to flunk? When it comes to education, China might be able to teach the world a lesson.