Students of Lebanon found wanting in science, maths globally
(See translation in Arabic section)
Lebanon’s students ranked second to last in the world in science, and last in the Arab world in the international "Thames" test.
The disastrous results for students in science and mathematics prove, time and again, the need to rethink the feasibility of filler-stifled approaches that are not primarily designed to meet students' needs in international exams
Among the 39 countries that participated in the international test “Trends in the Study of International Mathematics and Sciences” (TIMSS) in 2019 (the results were announced last month), Lebanon ranked 38th in science, and last among the 10 participating Arab countries.
In mathematics, Lebanon ranked 32nd internationally, and fourth in the Arab world.
This is the fifth time that Lebanon has taken the international test organized by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievements (IEA) every four years to assess students’ academic achievements.
It adopts a scientific methodology that enables countries to measure the progress they have made in the field of teaching and learning of mathematics and science at the international level, and to develop a comprehensive evaluation picture about student achievement on the one hand, and the suitability of the curricula adopted in the country on the other hand.
Reading the results of 4730 male and female students from 204 public and private schools leads to a rethinking of the feasibility of adopting the current curricula in mathematics and science, which prove their failure with every educational merit, whether at international or local levels, after the experience of distance education showed the delay of the curricula.
The compound of the rapid development at all levels.
With regard to mathematics, the achievement average for the eighth grade of basic is 429 points compared to the test average of 500 points. The current rate is the lowest result since the first participation in the merit, as Lebanon scored 433 points in 2003, and 449 between 2007 and 2011, and then declined to 442 in 2015, before it deteriorated further in the last maturity.
Most science and mathematics teachers are not prepared for teaching
Lebanon is the only Arab country whose achievement rate has declined, among the participating Arab countries that recorded a better level of achievement compared to the 2015 maturity, even if none of these countries succeeded in passing the test rate.
It is a bleak result when compared to other countries, especially Singapore, which ranked first (616 points), China came second (612), and Korea ranked third (607).
While the Israeli entity advanced 8 points from the previous maturity, to reach 519 points, noting that its achievement index rose from 332 points in the 2011 participation to 511 points in 2015, after Lebanon was ahead of it by 117 points in 2011.
As for the science subject, the results were very disappointing. As the rate reached its lowest level since the first participation, i.e. 377 points, after it was 393 in 2003 and 414 in 2007, then gradually decreased, to 406 points in 2011, and 398 points in 2015. Singapore ranked first in science also with 608 points, while Bahrain won First place in the Arab world with 486 points.
It is striking that Lebanon has achieved disastrous results in return for high teaching hours. While the teaching hours in the science subject during the school year amounted to 243 hours, the number of hours in Singapore did not exceed 112 hours per year and in Finland 142 hours. The same applies to mathematics, as Lebanon ranked fourth among the participating countries in terms of the number of hours of teaching mathematics annually (170 hours), compared to 135 hours in Singapore and 111 hours in Finland.
The paradox between achievement and the number of hours reflects the indoctrination prevalent in education, and how learners' brains have transformed into receptacles into which information is poured out without the learner being able to analyse, criticize, debate, synthesize, and operate the thinking 'mechanics' of mental functions in an organized and interconnected manner. The most prominent evidence is that the learners ’achievement resulting from practicing all levels of thinking (knowledge, application, higher skills: analysis, explanation and inference) was significantly lower than the international achievement rate. In addition, the student achievement rate was also low and less than the international average in dealing with answering different types of questions (multiple choice, linking, open question, fill in the blank, short answer, true or false) and in the way documents are used (data, Graphics, tables and texts), and even questions starting with procedural verbs and interrogative questions.
Lebanon is the only one among participating Arab countries with a declining achievement rate
In logical conflict with the results, 61% of the Lebanese students who participated in the test said they receive the mathematics explanation with high clarity, 58% think the same thing in physics, 60% in chemistry and 58% in physics. And this is an important indicator, which is that only 19% of mathematics teachers have mathematics specialists and mathematics didactics, and only 15% possess science and science didactics, meaning that most science and mathematics teachers are not prepared for the teaching profession, and for this they expressed their need for professional development, and the integration of technology with education Science and mathematics, improving students' critical thinking and problem solving, and meeting individual student needs.
The truth of the matter is that the curriculum through which the state practices its failed educational policy, from patchwork and improvisation to benefits and poor planning, is not designed primarily to meet the needs of students in international exams.
The skills of scientific and mental practices in a varied and balanced manner are largely absent, especially the higher levels of thinking in Bloom's classification of learning objectives (analysis - synthesis - evaluation), as well as not covering all aspects of evaluation necessary in the correct educational process.
Curricula suffocated by fillers and killed by chaos in the way the lessons, goals and competencies are organized. As for the teachers, they do not have sufficient experience and knowledge about the types and forms of questions for these tests, and the teaching and evaluation methods that correspond to them. In turn, most students suffer from poor literacy skills in the foreign language, which makes them not prepared for these tests, and they do not undergo adequate training on questions that require their own thinking skills, so they participate in them without any incentive as they are not included in the school evaluation.
Most of them participate in it as a matter of imposition by the administration.