Recent reports indicate that Australia’s schools are continuing to fall behind
in international tests. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 report shows that Australian students are up to 3 years of schooling behind students of the same age in China and Singapore. (1)
The average Australian student is actually scoring lower now than the average for students 15 years ago. We have fallen behind many other countries and overall performance in reading, mathematics and science has declined. In reading literacy we ranked 4th
in 2003 but by 2018 we ranked 16th. In mathematics we fell from 11th place to 29th and in scientific literacy we fell from 8th to 15th. The best performing countries tended to be China, Singapore and Macau
and among European nations Estonia has replaced Finland as having the best performing students. (2) So we are not only behind north Asian nations we are behind much of Europe as well.
This decline has occurred despite a big increase in the amount spent on schools by both state and federal governments. In the financial year 2007-08 the total amount spent was $36.4 billion but this rose to $57.8 billion in 2016-17. (3) It would appear that
the extra funding has not achieved anything. So why are results getting worse?
One problem is that in a country like Australia, where the less bright tend to outbreed the more bright
there is a dysgenic tendency in relation to intelligence and there is evidence that IQs of our children are falling. (4) Worsening this situation, as discussed in our issue 83, is that immigration could be making the population dumber. We take in migrants
from high IQ countries and from low IQ nations but the latter outbreed the former, making the dysgenic situation worse. A few examples showing national IQs and the total fertility rate of migrants from those countries based on Australian birth statistics for
Hong Kong 106
South Korea 106
Sub-Saharan Africa 68
The IQ figure for Sub-Saharan Africa is an estimated average of those countries for which IQs in the region are available. Note also that many migrants from Africa
are white, Asian or mixed race. Doubtless the fertility rate for black Africans in Australia is higher.
New South Wales has had one of the worst declines in performance in PISA. (6)
This quite likely reflects the high proportion of Third World migrants in that state. In 2018, NSW (along with the Northern Territory) was the only state where the fertility rate actually increased over the previous year. (7)
Things are bad but will no doubt get worse. Economic growth in most of the high IQ nations is strong but fertility rates are low, in fact population growth in China is down to 0.43% while in Japan the population is shrinking. (8) Meanwhile the lower IQ nations
still have high fertility and population growth and it’s likely a bigger proportion of our immigration will come from these countries. Hence average IQ in Australia will fall and our future PISA results will get worse. No doubt the brain power of those
entering the teaching profession will also go down accelerating the problem.
The implications for Australia are dire as we will have an increasing proportion of the population who have
little ability for jobs requiring high levels of skill. Meanwhile low level jobs will became relatively scarcer as we will have more people who won’t be able to do anything else. Unemployment and crime can be expected to worsen.
There are of course things the government could do to mitigate the problems such as lowering the immigration rate, especially the number of refugees who tend to have more problems than other migrants in getting jobs. It may be difficult
to get our brighter people to have more children, although accelerated schooling for smart children, and easing or removing the means test on family tax benefits or the new-born allowance might help.
It’s unlikely that the government will try any of these but will waste more money on education while the performance of schools – and the economy – continues to worsen.
(1) Elias Visontay, “Aussie Kids Behind China
Peers”, The Australian, 4 December 2019
(2) “How Our Students Scored”, PISA, The Australian, 4 December 2019
Tells Educators to ‘Lift Your Game’”, The Australian, 5 December 2019
(4) E. Dutton, D. van der Linden, R. Lynn, “The Negative Flynn Effect: A Systemic Literature Review”,
(5) Richard Lynn & Tatu Vanhanen, "Intelligence”, Ulster Institute for Social Research, London, 2014; Australian Bureau of Statistics, 33010DO006 Births, Australia, 2018, Table 6.1, Country of birth of mother-2018
(6) Kevin Donnelly, “Failing, by the Numbers”, Daily Telegraph, 14 January 2020
(7) Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2018