Australia crashing down international leaderboard for education, falling behind Kazakhstan.

By Dan Conifer

Australia is losing to Kazakhstan in the latest global education report card.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is conducted every four years and shows local students crashing further down the international leaderboard.

Since 2011, it shows Australia plunging from:

  • 18th to 28th on Year 4 mathematics
  • 12th to 17th for Year 8 maths
  • 12th to 17th for Year 8 science

Australia is still in 25th place for Year 4 science results.

Kazakhstan — a Central Asian country well-known for the satirical film Borat and with a population smaller than ours — soared past Australia in all four categories.

TIMSS looks at the Year 4 results of 49 countries and Year 8 outcomes of 39 nations.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said being beaten by nations like Kazakhstan is a wake-up call.

“I don’t want to denigrate Kazakhstan, or indeed their artistic skills with movies like Borat,” Senator Birmingham said.

“I think though Australia should be seeking to be amongst the best in the world and declines like this are unacceptable and that we need to be working hard to turn it around.”

Pumping more money into schools ‘not the answer’

Other nations outperforming Australia across the board include England, the United States, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Japan.

The Federal Government said TIMSS results have fallen since 2003 despite federal education funding climbing by almost 50 per cent


Senator Birmingham said pumping more money into schools was not the answer and the lacklustre results would be raised in talks with states and territories about school funding beyond 2017.

“Some of the things we’re doing in our classrooms clearly aren’t up to scratch,” he said.

“What I am urging the Opposition — the Labor Party — and the states and territories to focus on is how we can best use what is a record and growing investment in Australian schools to get the best possible outcomes for the future rather than continuing a debate that pretends that money itself is the solution.”

Results a ‘wake-up call to Australia’

Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek agreed the results were troubling but said they proved why the Gonski education funding model was vital.

“The results are very concerning and they show exactly why we need to invest extra in our schools,” Ms Plibersek said.

“They show that kids from poorer families in poorer schools in remote and regional areas are doing worst of all.

“It is a wake-up call to Australia because we think of ourselves as a wealthy nation, a nation with a highly developed education system.

“As poorer countries not only catch up to us but overtake us, we need to be asking ourselves about our own commitment to investing in our children’s education.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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