Tag Archives: Switzerland

Skipping Classes to Make Passes: Do Truants Play Better Football?

Argentina has an outstanding football team, boasting two World Cup titles and some of the most admired players in history. Argentina also has an outstanding number of truants  (i.e. students who skip classes). Before taking their PISA tests, almost three in five students said that they had skipped a day (or even more) of school during the prior two weeks. Argentina has more truants than any of the other 22 World Cup PISA countries!

Is that why Argentina’s footballers are so good? Does skipping classes help improve football passes?

Skipping classes to make passes

Based on World Cup results so far, I don’t think so! The blue line in the graph shows that, on average:

  • Teams that have already reached the quarter finals have more students attending all classes than the teams they beat in Round 2. For example, Colombia (only 4.4% of students skip school days) beat Uruguay (23.6%)
  • Teams that lost in Round 2, in turn, do better than the teams they eliminated in the group stages. Chile (7.7%), for example, does better than Australia (31.8%).

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Education policy and football: Can you be good at both?

What do policymakers, football managers and parents have in common? Answer: they worry about trade-offs. Should we fund health or education with the public budget? Should we bring on an extra midfielder or bolster our defense? Should we give her an apple … or let her have chocolate?

But surely we don’t need to choose between good education policy and a winning football team!? As a concerned parent, football fan and policy advisor, I took a closer look at the 23 countries that both participate in the OECD’s PISA survey and have qualified for Brazil 2014.

PISA maths v FIFA World Ranking

The results are alarming! On average, countries drop about 7 points in PISA maths for 100 additional points in the FIFA world football rankings. Maths whizz Korea is ranked 57 in FIFA, while tiki-taka-loving Spain lies PISA 70 points behind Korea. According to the PISA team, that gap equates to almost two years of schooling!

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