MADRID – Spain is experiencing a decline in performance in maths, science and reading, according to the latest PISA report. Since 2015, the country has dropped 15 points in maths, 22 points in reading and 8 points in science.
This has meant that Spain is now at the bottom of the list of OECD countries. The country has been scoring poorly for years in the large-scale international comparative research in the field of education, conducted by the OECD.
According to the PISA report, several factors are contributing to this decline, including an increase in mediocre students in all three subject areas and a decrease in excellent students, especially in maths. Factors such as decreased parental involvement, loss of cohesiveness in schools and deteriorating relationships between students and teachers are also cited as possible causes.
Cell phones as a distraction
A significant portion of Spanish students become distracted by their cell phones during classes. This has a negative effect on their learning performance. The PISA report suggests that schools limit the use of phones rather than banning them completely.
Education secretary refuses responsibility
Despite declining performance, Education Secretary José Manuel Bar refuses to take responsibility. Rather, he emphasises the resilience of Spanish schools and the well-being of students. Bar believes that a total ban on mobile phones is not the solution and advocates safe and educational use of phones by students.
Comparison with Japan
Compared to countries like Japan, known for its successful education system, Spain underperforms in all three core subjects.
Focus on attention in the classroom
Spain scores low when it comes to students’ attention to teachers in the classroom. The PISA survey shows that 38% of Spanish students admit to not listening to their teachers during explanations, compared to an average of 30% in other OECD countries. Phone and tablet screens often distract students, with 33% of Spanish students experiencing this problem in most maths lessons.
Recommendations for the future
The PISA report recommends that schools work to limit phone use to prevent distractions, while promoting safe and educational use of technology. The recommendation is therefore expressly not to ban the use of mobile phones in classes.
No direct link between ban and performance
The report’s researchers found no direct correlation between banning these devices in the classroom and an improvement in school performance. On the contrary, when cell phones are used for educational purposes, they can actually improve performance.
“Reasonable use of mobile phones”
Daniel Salinas, analyst at PISA, claims that students who use their mobile phones for up to an hour a day achieve better results than those who do not use the device at all. However, excessive use for relaxation is harmful. That is why the organisation advocates that schools teach students to use mobile phones in a reasonable manner.
Education over repression
The OECD emphasies the importance of education that helps students use these devices appropriately, rather than an approach that can be perceived as repressive. “It doesn’t develop the ability to use them properly,” Salinas adds.
Total ban increases anxiety levels
A total ban, as indicated by the PISA report, increases students’ fear levels of using their mobile phones outside of school and could be counterproductive. This underlines the need for a balanced approach to mobile phone use in education.