Sunday, May 19, 2024


Nowadays at the theoretical level, there is movement from a concept that only recognizes education as the knowledge transmission, human experience from one generation to another, to another concept that makes education functional in unfamiliar life situations. Poor results, slightly better than 2015 testing, require numerous alternations across all dimensions of the education system. An alert that should motivate all protagonists of the education system to fully understand the global education trends and the key to the success of countries that are ahead of countries that have consolidated investment in education.

Author: Bardhyl Zaimi

The Western Balkan countries have shown poor performance in the 2018 PISA test. North Macedonia is ranked 67th out of a total of 79 participating countries. Despite the fact that there has been progress since the most recent 2015 testing, North Macedonia is still ranked in the countries with the poorest results. Undoubtedly, these results show an unsustainable education system and a lack of quality throughout the education system that cannot only be limited in this between times, but comes as an anomaly throughout these transition years. 

These results are a powerful alert for all protagonists in the field of education, but also for all educational policy makers, who must already read these results correctly and in accordance with the coordinates provided by PISA and start to reflect with their commitments. Within time, there have been political clashes over these results. For the opposition parties, this result addresses the Government’s misguided education policies, while government officials have pointed out that the country is heading up compared to 2015.

Beyond these clashes, this minimal success score of Macedonian pupils can be interpreted neither as a “sensational” success as presented by the Government, nor in profoundly dramatic tones, because the results of this 2018 test must be read with realism and deep dedication. There is no dilemma that pupils from North Macedonia, despite the better result they have achieved compared to 2015, are still at the bottom of the list of participating countries. This fact should create a new moment of competent debate and a broad reflection on all that the educational system in North Macedonia represents, spread and constantly atrophied by numerous experiments.

In not even a case has the educational system in North Macedonia resisted the political turbulences of the transition period, party influences and other influences that in huge amount have lowered the performance and the level of teaching together with this the students too. In North Macedonia, a coherent system of education has failed to respond to the professionalism and dedication that this important area of society requires. On the contrary, there have always been experiments in educational policy, instant solutions, solutions that have more been improvisations rather than realistically an overall qualitative transformation that entails well-defined legal frameworks, documents compiled by professionals in the field and long-term strategies, long-term goals that open up and build on a vision that would be in line with global developments. In the meantime, the Government of North Macedonia has drafted a strategy for the period 2018-2025,  but very little has been debated at the professional level and very little has been presented as a vision to the general public. Previously another document that at least was in paper on the development of education, is the National Program for Development of Education in the Republic of Macedonia 2005-2015, which also seems to have not provided the right vision but failed to minimize its impact on the foundations of the education system, which over time has undergone numerous turbulences, political influences, but also a complete lack of professional expertise and vision. Another striking truth is the fact that many of the documents and strategies compiled remain only on paper and fail to even minimally structure and reflect on the educational system, which faces a lack of a cohesive vision but also with internal “rust” with non-criteria employment.

In the contemporary world, the essence of education is already being debated, which should not be confused with teaching. Education remains a major undertaking in terms of perfecting skills beyond traditional forms. Pragmatic essentialism does not see education as a field but as a discipline, as a theoretical redefinition that goes beyond the application of other disciplines in the field of education. If educational theory is a discipline, it must provide a unique platform to view the whole social world. Theoretically, education means the transfer of human knowledge and experience from one generation to the next. It is like a kind of continuity, the transfer of all human knowledge through school as an institution.

Nowadays, even the global educational system is at a crossroads of reform, and each country in addition to the general principles chooses specific forms of educational structuring and organization. The wider technological world also imposes other guidelines, which remain included in PISA testing. In order to provide an assessment of the entire education system in 2000, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the first time organized the PISA (International Student Assessment Program) test, which aims to measure skills of 15-year-old pupils how they apply their knowledge in everyday life situations. This measurement is done in three disciplines: reading, math and science. In each participating country, a representative sample of 15-year-old pupils is selected for the test. The PISA test is not intended to create other layers of assessment, but it is essentially focused that in contrast to the traditional assessment to go beyond and to reproduce what pupils have learned in school. Therefore, learners need to explore beyond the subjects and apply their knowledge creatively.

The goals of the PISA test, among other things, emphasize that if all we do is teach our children what we know, they can remember how much they have to follow our footsteps. However, if they learn how to learn, and are able to think for themselves, and work with others, they can go wherever they want. PISA testing is dedicated to a range of scientists, education professionals, teachers, etc., who are already involved in this new methodology of evaluating education and which relates to other manifestations of student interconnection with unknown realities. The PISA test puts to the test the student’s efficiency, that is, his / her knowledge in an unforeseen life situation. In essence, this test is not intended to understand how much a student knows, but how much knowledge he or she can put into the service of a life test.

Truly, with this methodology, the concept of the education system is expanded, but also of knowledge in general, which is now not only seen as a traditional transfer to the next generation, the pupils, but also the functionalization of this knowledge in everyday life trials. As a comfort for the results of this test may be the fact that even students from much more developed countries, with much greater investment in the education system, have shown poor results. Therefore, this test highlights a creative lesson that doesn’t depends only on the good conditions in which students learn, but also on a concept of knowledge transfer, which is by no means schematic, but is a function of challenges of the digital world, the labor market and various life challenges. In this respect, the logic and methodology of this test says that the real test in life is not whether we can remember what we learned in school, but whether we will be able to solve a problem that we cannot foresee today.

All of this methodological framework of the PISA test leaves no room for boasting and despair, but rather requires much greater motivation to respond to the challenges of education globally. Many countries with much less investment in education have achieved remarkable success. This fact, among other things, should create a moment of reflection to change the matrix and concept of the education system in order to respond to the great global transformation that understands education as an ability to apply knowledge in certain situations in accordance with the great technological development in the world.

If one understands the essence of this test and the whole idea of education that is now not only about transferring knowledge but also about making it functional, then it will be easier to move on to the necessary corrections, the great transformation that requires motivation, will and well-defined educational policies. In this regard is also UNICEF’s call for North Macedonia: “The state should be more motivated by the latest results from the PISA student assessment program, which show improvements in writing, reading, math and science. Although the progress is inspiring, the overall student success remains below the average of other countries and this should send a call for all stakeholders to remain committed to education reforms, oriented towards needs of teaching pupils”. 


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