India agrees to end PISA boycott; will participate in PISA 2021

The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar in the first week of September 2018 decided to end the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) boycott.
Resultantly, the ministry will send a team of officers to Paris this year to negotiate India’s terms of participation in PISA 2021 with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD).

Why did India not participate in PISA since 2012 and what made it to revisit its decision?

India made its debut in PISA in 2009 with 16000 students from 400 schools across Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. However, students performed miserably in the 2009 test, placing India at 72nd among the 74 participating countries.

Resultantly, India decided stayed away from PISA in 2012 and 2015. The decision to boycott PISA was undertaken by the UPA government, which blamed “out of context” questions for the poor show in 2009.

Later, the HRD Ministry, under the NDA-II government, revisited this decision in 2016 and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) had set up a committee to review the matter and submitted its report in December 2016. The report recommended for participation in test in 2018.

A similar recommendation was made in 2017 by the group of secretaries on education constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, India had missed the application deadline for the 2018 cycle.

PISA 2021 test likely to be administered in Chandigarh schools

• Unlike 2009, when schools in Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh had participated, the Union government will request OECD to administer the test across all schools in Chandigarh in 2021.

• There are roughly 100 government; government-aided; and private senior secondary schools in the Union Territory.

• Apart from the schools in Chandigarh, the HRD Ministry also suggested that all Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs), funded and run by the Centre, shall take the test.

• The HRD Ministry has already obtained the consent of the Office of the Chandigarh Administrator for the same.

Reasons to select Chandigarh for PISA

Chandigarh was selected for three reasons:

  • It is a compact area.
  • Government wanted to keep number of languages (in which the test has to be administered) to minimum. In Chandigarh schools, students are taught in Hindi and English.
  • Chandigarh has a record of performing well in learning assessments.


• The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was introduced in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD).

• PISA is a competency-based test. It tests the learning levels of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science.

• The test is carried out once in every three years.

• As on date, there are 80 countries participating in PISA, including China and Vietnam.

• In 2012, schools of Shanghai in China topped the reading, mathematics and science test, followed closely by Singapore. In 2015, Singapore, Japan and Estonia were ranked as top three countries, in that order.


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