The effectiveness of education does not depend on money and the political situation in the country, but the most important things in education are not grades and not even academic knowledge, but the child’s ability to think critically. About how this is achieved in the “educational superpowers” is told by Amanda Ripley in her book, titled “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way.”

The Ukrainian edition of Amanda Ripley’s book “The Smartest Kids in the World” was published as part of a joint project of Vasyl Khmelnytsky’s K.Fund and the Osvitoria Social Organization. The book was introduced in a public lecture by an international expert in education, Andreas Schleicher, which was hosted by Novopecherska School. Adviser to the Minister of Education and Science Ivanna Kobernik, former Deputy Education Minister Oleh Derevyanko, Chairperson of the Osvitoria Social Organization Zoya Lytvyn also took part in open debates after the lecture.

Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), one of the main characters and the main sources of information for “The Smartest Kids in the World.” During the lecture, he analyzed the experience of OECD member countries in improving the quality of schooling. Schleicher is a developer and supervisor of the global PISA-based test for schools, which determines the overall level of critical thinking of teenagers in most countries of the world. It was the results of this testing that the author of the book, Amanda Ripley, took as the basis, choosing countries for the examination of successful educational systems. Ukraine will also join the PISA-based test in 2018.

“We see from the PISA results that the quality of education does not depend how much money is spent on it, but rather it depends on the importance that society attaches to it and, most of all, on the quality of teaching. We often see in the countries of eastern Europe that teaching involves simple reproducing of lesson materials. Teachers check whether students can repeat what they have been taught. While the real world expects people to be able to draw conclusions and apply their knowledge creatively to solve new problems. Because of this, there is a gap between what is taught in school and what really matters” Andreas Schleicher 

The book “The Smartest Kids in the World” describes foreign educational cultures from an unexpected angle and makes readers look at the national school from a different point of view. It tells the stories of three American teenagers who went on an exchange program in Finland, South Korea and Poland and had an opportunity to study in the strongest schools in the world. Having thoroughly studied the experience of the countries that have made an incredible leap in the quality of education in just a few years, Amanda Ripley made an astonishing discovery. It allows any country to become an “educational superpower,” where all children will learn to think, draw their own conclusions and be successful.

“The book is useful not only to teachers, but also to parents. It shows how a modern education system should be built, what it really is worth paying attention to in teaching children, and provides practical advice. For example, it is interesting that for educational success of children it is important to read to them, discuss what has been read or events in society, their significance” Osvitoria’s head Zoya Lytvyn 

Since April, “The Smartest Kids in the World” is available in bookstores.


Reference information

K.Fund was founded in 2015 by Ukrainian entrepreneur Vasyl Khmelnytsky to support projects in the economics and education. The mission of K.Fund is to provide the keys to development and implementation, to provide opportunities for acquiring new knowledge and skills, to promote discoveries and help to reach a new level.

Among the initiatives supported by Vasyl Khmelnytsky’s K.Fund are Kyiv International Economic Forum (KIEF); the Bila Tserkva 2025 modern model for regional development; the Technology Companies’ Development Center TCDC; the unique educational IT factory UNIT Factory; projects of the Osvitoria Social Organization: a modern secondary school in Kyiv — Novopecherska School and the iLearn online platform for orphans and children from needy families; Ukraine’s first inter-corporate IT university BIONIC University; the K.Fund Books publishing project; Lean Institute Ukraine.

Osvitoria is a non-profit making public association promoting the development and reform of education in Ukraine. The organization seeks to take modern Ukrainian education to an international level. Its aim is to offer and create learning opportunities for children to the highest standard and to merge the best of Ukrainian teaching with modern international educational techniques and innovations. Osvitoria’s objective is to develop education using an extensive range of initiatives: focusing on work with teachers, students and their parents. It cooperates with government institutions and engages overseas experts. Supported by international organizations, it introduces new educational technologies and methods in order to provide Ukrainian teachers with the best professional development opportunity and give them new proven-effective edtech tools.