Fact-Checker: Buaben Asamoa’s PISA test claim against Jane Naana false

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Did Ghana rank last in the PISA 2013 test?

 CLAIM: Ghana ranked last in PISA 2013 test and education minister Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman took the country out of the competition.

VERDICT: Ghana has never been ranked in PISA since the program started. PISA is triennial and is released every three years since the first one in 2000. There was no PISA test for 2013 and therefore Ghana could not have ranked last in a report that did not exist.  This claim by the communications director of the NPP Yaw Buaben Asamoa is an outright lie and is therefore rated two stars.


On Monday, July 6 2020, the National Executive Committee of the largest opposition, the NDC unanimously approved Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman as the running mate for NDC flagbearer John Dramani Mahama for the 2020 presidential election.

On that same day, hours after the official announcement, communications director of the governing NPP Yaw Buaben Asamoa addressed a press conference at the NPP campaign office at Kokomlemle where he put out the party’s reaction to the selection of the NDC running mate. Among the comments he made, Mr Buaben Asamoa claimed that when Ghana was ranked last in the PISA in 2013, then Education Minister Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman run away from the competition.

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“In 2013 when Ghana was ranked last in PISA, she runs away from the competition where Ghana could have taken the opportunity to roll out robust reforms in dealing with our educational challenges as a nation, yet she preferred not to be ranked at all”- Yaw Buaben Asamoa, of the NPP said



PISA is a program for the assessment of students developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PISA is an acronym that stands for “Programme for International Student Assessment”. According to OECD, PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. (https://www.oecd.org/pisa/).

PISA is not only the world’s most comprehensive and reliable indicator of students’ capabilities, it is also a powerful tool that countries and economies can use to fine-tune their education policies…to share evidence of the best policies and practices, and to offer timely and targeted support to help countries provide the best education possible (Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General in PISA 2018; Insights and interpretations).

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Countries volunteer to participate in PISA and once the PISA board approves the country, individual schools are chosen based on stringent criteria to represent all 15-year-old students in that country. The students are randomly chosen from among all 15-year-olds enrolled in grade 7 or higher.

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A thorough website search done by Starrfmfactchecker on the https://www.oecd.org/pisa/ showed that Ghana is not listed as one of the over 90 countries and economies that have participated in PISA tests since the year 2000. Below is the image of full list of countries and economies that have participated in PISA

Source: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/pisa-participants.htm

On the official website, the OECD states that PISA is a triennial test that is taken once every three years. The program began in 2000 and every 3 years since, results have been announced. This means that since the year 2000, there have been seven PISA tests taken in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018. The image below shows evidence of the years when the tests were done

Source: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/publications/

From this, it is clear that there could not have been any PISA test for 2013. Ghana could therefore not have been ranked in the first place, let alone be ranked last in a test that was never conducted.

In verifying, Starrfmfactchecker did a Google search to identify which online portals published the news item about the claim in question. The search yielded no result pertaining to Ghana ranking last in PISA 2013 test. None of the state publications and websites of the mainstream media in the country published a story to that effect. There is no documented evidence that points to the claim that Ghana ranked last in PISA 2013.

However, the Google search produced results of publications relating to another ranking done by the OECD. The Global School Ranking, touted as the biggest ever of such rankings, was released in May 2015 and was based on test scores in 76 countries.

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It showed the link between education and economic growth. OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher is quoted to have said while commenting on the report in 2015 that the ranking was the “first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education” and that the idea is to “give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them” (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-32608772).

Asia’s Singapore came tops in the ranking while Ghana ranked last in the 76th position.

Source: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Ghana-comes-last-in-biggest-global-school-rankings-357995

In spite of the fact that the Global School Ranking was done by the OECD, the analysis provided a much wider global map of education standards than the PISA tests, which focus on more affluent industrialized countries.

According to the BBC, the rankings “were based on an amalgamation of international assessments, including the OECD’s Pisa tests, the TIMSS tests run by US-based academics and TERCE tests in Latin America” (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-32608772)

Then Education Minister Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman reacted to the ranking by saying that the data used to determine Ghana’s rank in the Global School Ranking were from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), noting that the ranking raised “ a number of concerns”. (https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2015/06/17/ghanas-maths-and-science-ranking-based-on-2011-data-prof-opoku-agyemang/


The claim by Communications Director of the governing NPP Yaw Buaben Asamoa that Ghana ranked last in PISA 2013 is not true. It is an outright lie because there was no PISA test done that year and according to the OECD website, Ghana has not participated in any PISA test since its inception.

The country is not included in the full list of countries and economies have been involved in the PISA.  Indeed Ghana came last in a ranking done by the OECD, that ranking was the Global School Ranking and was done in 2015 and not 2013. The data for that ranking was not taken from PISA tests but rather Ghana’s 2011 results in the TIMSS study. This claim is rated two-stars because it is completely false

Rating: Outright falsehood




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Researched by Regina Borley Bortey


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About Post Author

Ellis Ferdinand

Ellis Ferdinand is the Founder of Education Ghana Media Network ,a parent Company of EducationGhana.net ,an Online Education News Blog and Education Television, an Online Digital Television Channel. Ellis Ferdinand is a Graduate of Accra College of Education and the University of Cape Coast respectively, where he obtained a Diploma In Basic Education and a Bachelor of Education in Accounting. Awards Ellis Ferdinand won Blogger of the Year at the 2018 National Students’ Awards and was also adjudged 14th Best Ghanain Blogger in 2018 among Top 50 Ghanaian Bloggers of 2018. He introduced the Concept of Education Blogging in Ghana in 2014 with his famous blog EducationGhana.net. His Blog won Best Media Promoting Education in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively, an Award organized by Neogenics Education Consult. In 2019, He was adjudged the Most Promising West African Blogger of the Year in Nigeria.
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