A new research has found that students in countries with more religious influence perform comparatively low in subjects like maths and science than their more agnostic or atheist counterparts.
Professor of Psychology, Gijsbert Stoet who is the co-author of the study told The Independent, “Countries that are more religious score lower in educational performance.” In accordance with this, he suggested, “governments that might be able to raise educational standards and so standards of living by keeping religion out of schools and out of educational policy-making.”
The research that was jointly led by academics at the Leeds Beckett University (UK), where Professor Stoet is based, and Curators’ Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, David Geary from the University of Missouri (USA) found that there was a strong negative correlation between time spent on religious education in secondary schools and overall performance.
Governments might be able to raise educational standards and so standards of living by keeping religion out of schools and out of educational policy-making.
According to The University Website, the researchers combined data from the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), OECD’s Education at a Glance, the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the United Nationals Human Development Report.
Analysis of the data sets allowed conclusions to be drawn about international levels of religiosity, levels of human development (in regard to health, education and income), schooling and educational performances.
They analysed 76 countries and ranked them by their ‘religiosity score’, on a scale of zero to ten and looked at the databases from the last decade to evaluate academic performance. The findings were published in the academic journal Intelligence.
Out of the 76 countries analysed, the rankings placed Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan, Estonia and Norway as the five least religious countries. While, the five most religious countries were found to be Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Tunisia. The UK was ranked 13th in terms of religiosity.
Students living in countries of high religiosity may score low in science because of the incompatibility between evolution and traditional beliefs.
The levels of religiosity were determined using representative questionnaires, carried out around the world in the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey among the adult population.
School performance in mathematics and science literacy levels were based on scores from children aged between 14 to 15 years old, according to The University Website. Their findings suggested that students living in countries of high religiosity may score low in science because of the incompatibility between evolution and traditional beliefs.
Ranked in 72nd place for religiosity, Saudi Arabia with a Mathematics score of -1.8 in 2004 comes as a suitable example, as suggested by Professor Stoet.
Being a self-declared atheist from the Netherlands, Professor Stoet said, “I personally think that schools should be secular because we see there is a link between religion and education and I think it would be a benefit for the school system to free up their time to concentrate on science and maths. Schools should teach about religion but I don’t think they should teach faith issues.”
The findings also proved that in the large majority of countries, women reported a higher level of religiosity than men. However, this was not at all related to their educational performance.
“Whilst it is already known that faith schooling leads to segregation of communities, it is now also clear that religiosity is actually directly associated with lower performance,” said Professor Stoet, according to The Website.
“Even though the exact mechanisms need to be studied further, my advice for policy makers is to keep education and religion separate and take a secular approach to education and educational policy,” Professor Stoet further added.
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