One in four students leaves school unable to read, and will be “functionally illiterate” throughout his lifetime, the association Change for Equality reports Thursday in La Dernière heure, after analysis of PISA survey figures. “We noticed that as far as reading is concerned, 24% of children aged 15 have an insufficient level to get by in life,” president of the association Jacques Cornet said. “Another survey showed that 24% of 15-year-olds did not possess minimum skills in mathematics,” Mr. Cornet goes on. This means, therefore, “that 25% of young people do not have the tools to get by in life. They know how to read but are unable to decipher drug instructions, bills, train schedule, etc.”
The finding does not surprise Jean-Pierre Cornet, President of the League for Children’s Rights. “Schools have been producing illiterates for a long time (…). There are many more illiterates in schools in poor neighbourhoods, which is due to the organization of the Belgian system.”
For the Minister of Compulsory Education Marie-Martine Schyns, “what matters is to address the root of the problem”: “The key is to improve things, may it be at the level of language proficiency, in mathematics or in science, and that’s what we are aiming to do with the Pact of Excellence. There are too many young people leaving their studies with an insufficient command of the language, and it is a huge problem,” she admits.
The Brussels Times