The organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) has agreed to tweak the PISA test questions to fit the Indian context, after the country decided to end its decade-long boycott of the examination. This was agreed at a meeting between the official delegation from the HRD Ministry and OECD representatives in Paris last month, The Indian Express has learnt.
PISA or Programme for International Student Assessment — introduced in the year 2000 by OECD — tests the learning levels of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. The test is carried out every three years. India stayed away from PISA in 2012 and 2015 on account of its dismal performance in 2009, when it was placed 72nd among the 74 participating countries. The then UPA government had blamed “out of context” questions for the poor show in 2009.
As first reported by The Indian Express on September 6, the NDA-II government decided to end this boycott and dispatched a team of officers Paris in the first week of October to negotiate India’s terms of participation in 2021 with OECD.
According to ministry sources, OECD, at the Paris meeting, was represented by Andreas Schleicher, who is the director of the directorate of education and skills and he agreed to the condition that the test questions should use names, terms and situations that Indian students are familiar with. “So test takers won’t come across unfamiliar names like Bob or fruits like avacado in the test,” said a ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.
In addition to this, OECD is learnt to have suggested that the test questions should be translated from French to Hindi and not English to Hindi. “There was a feeling that French has grammatical similarities to Hindi and hence the thrust of the question will not be lost in translation. For instance, in French, like in Hindi, all objects have a gender,” the above quoted official added.
Unlike in 2009, when schools in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh had participated, the ministry had informed OECD that in 2021 it would like the PISA test to be administered across all schools in Chandigarh and all Navodaya Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas in the country. There are roughly 100 government, government-aided and private senior secondary schools in the Union Territory.
An MoU between the Indian government and the OECD finalising the terms of PISA participation is expected to be signed this year.