In the context of the latest developments concerning the international surveys in education and many of journalistic inquiries received by our institution, we are obliged to inform the public about the large number of misinterpretations regarding the results of international surveys in education that have emerged recently.
Fact 1 – The Data for Bosnia and Herzegovina are not good!
Students of all education systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina on average achieve results below the international PISA 2018 average. Every second 15-year-old student in BiH does not have functional reading literacy – that is, understanding and interpreting different types of text. It is also a fact that statistical variations within the education systems in BiH are negligible, if we take into account that our 15-year-olds lag behind the EU on average by three school years and that on average 41.3% of 15-year-olds do not reach the minimum level in three PISA surveys areas.
As for the results of the TIMSS 2019 survey, the fact is that as many as a quarter of fourth-graders in primary school do not even reach the basic level of mathematical knowledge and skills, which means they have difficulty with elementary mathematical concepts.
Fact 2 – The Agency is an institution at the state level and in accordance with its competencies – it provides data for the entire state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
All international surveys data are public, located in public international databases that are coded for personal data protection, but are available to all participants for analysis and research. All relevant ministries of education have received access data from the Agency and clear instructions on how to access data for their area of responsibility in international databases. The Agency does not conduct analyses for individual competent ministries but still has offered support to all the ministries in their analysing the data.
All relevant ministries of education have been invited to do the analysis, but (unfortunately) most of them have not done them.
Fact 3 – Most of the deadlines for signing the agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s participation in international surveys: PISA 2022, PIRLS 2021, TIMSS 2023, ICILS 2023, TALIS 2024, have officially expired.
Since early morning, we have been in contact with international organizations that conduct surveys in order to obtain possible participation in the surveys whose deadlines may possibly be minimally extended.
Namely, the deadlines are strictly defined and respected worldwide and they apply equally to ALL countries participating in international surveys. Despite the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has commited to participate in international surveys, the Agency for Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Education of BiH, in charge of their implementation, welcomed the end of 2020 and then the end of 2021, waiting for the Presidency of BiH decision on participation, without which the surveys could not be conducted.
In certain surveys, while waiting for relevant decisions, the Agency would realize all the tasks prescribed by the technical standards of the concerned international survey, but the lack of necessary approvals prevented us from participating continously in the process.
Fact 4 – The Agency for Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Education is a professional institution at the state level and as such is not a policy maker, nor is it in charge of coordinating education in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Agency, as a professional institution, should implement harmonized policies, and not work on their harmonization and coordination of the competent education authorities. We believe that all decisions and political negotiations on the implementation of international surveys in education should be completed before the Agency is tasked with practical implementation.
Obtaining clear indicators on what our students know and can do and how capable they are of living and working in the 21st century can only be in the interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina and all our education systems, bearing in mind the quality education is key to developing a successful economy and functional labour market. Comprehensive analyses of information from international surveys clearly identify which segments of education need to be improved, providing guidelines and recommendations for further work.
We urge the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to accept good practices of the European countries we strive for and thus enable children of Bosnia and Herzegovina to continuously and systematically participate in the international surveys in education, what will encourage us to continue to improve education in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus students’ achievement to the desired level.