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The Education´s Health Report
In any given country the rate of unemployment decreases as the literacy levels increase and it does so to a higher extent when women are involved.”
2008 OECD indicators

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) analyzes the academic levels of the 65 most economically prominent nations based on its student´s performance. This is derived through the results obtained from a set of tests that are carried out every 3 years by a group of 15 year old students from each country, and whose objective is to determine the academic level of each participant.  This report is designed, managed and produced by the OECD.

It is important to note that PISA does not place its focus in analyzing the academic programs themselves, but in the level of knowledge and skills of the students in general. Under this light, the examiners intend to place the weight of the test on the student´s ability to comprehend, relate, discern and solve problems through the application of knowledge to the different areas rather than the topics the education programs cover.

This ongoing evaluation explores 3 main areas: reading and comprehension, mathematics and sciences. Each of the 3 different areas that are covered by the test, are examined in higher depth depending on the round in which they take place. Following the established procedure; in the year 2000, reading and comprehension was given more weight while in 2003 and 2006, maths and sciences respectively were looked at in higher detail. As a result, in 2009 a second version of PISA began with the evaluation of reading and comprehension.

In the last report, the countries that received the highest scores were: Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, USA and Canada. In the TOP 10 Asia had 5 spots, China did not participate, however Shanghai and Hong Kong did so independently as “cities”, being awarded some of the highest scores (first and fourth respectively). In the last report the academic systems in the countries of: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Korea were also praised. 

The PISA study is complemented with another OECD 2008 report which determines the health of the academic systems themselves by evaluating the drop out rates and the level of success in completing the secondary education. From the 26 member countries of the OECD that participated: Denmark, Norway and Germany occupy the first three places, as the most healthy education systems, while the last 3 positions: 24th, 25th and 26th, are taken by Brazil, Turkey and Mexico.  

The following graphs compare the western education systems between themselves and with the PISA global average involving the 65 participants.




*The graph portrays the most representative countries in Europe compared to the PISA global average (light blue).

If we compare the global PISA average with the results obtained by the USA, we see it places itself above the global average except for maths, obtaining the 30th position. In reading and comprehension and sciences it is awarded the 11th and 18th position respectively.


Canada is very healthy when it comes to education. In reading and comprehension it comes in 8th  while in maths and sciences 12th and 10th respectively.


The UK finds itself relatively below the PISA average in maths (31st place). They do much better in reading and comprehension: (18th place) and in sciences (12th place).


Switzerland is one of the best positioned in all disciplines. In maths it obtained the 6th place, in sciences the 13th and in reading and comprehension the 17th place.


Germany is also among the very best, finding itself above the average in all disciplines. In sciences it is placed 8th  while in reading and comprehension or math: 14th and 19th respectively.


In line with Germany and Switzerland, France also performs rather well, however a little below average when it comes to sciences being 23rd. Reading and comprehension and maths were given the 13th and 18th place respectively. 




Most rankings place Harvard as the world´s most prestigious university. According to ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities), out of the first top 500 universities in the world Harvard takes the first position, followed by Berkley, Stanford, MIT and Cambridge in the fifth position. It is not until the 20th position that a non-American/British university appears; this is the case of the University of Tokyo. 

The Times Higher Educational European University Ranking (2010-2011) places Oxford and Cambridge as the best universities, in a tide, followed by the Imperial College of London. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich takes the third position, the University College of London the fourth and in the fifth the French “École Politechnique” in Paris. 

In the Top 200 of the last Times ranking, but now from a world stance, Harvard is placed again as the best, followed by the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Princeton University. All of them in the USA. It is not until the 6th  position that Oxford and Cambridge appear.

When it comes to the MBAs, according to the Financial Times ranking of the TOP 100; The London Business School occupies the first position, the University of Pennsylvania the second, and Harvard the third. IESE (Barcelona, Spain) and INSEAD (France, Fontainebleau), just below the aforementioned three, are fighting their way up to the top as some of the world´s best MBA programs.