An international survey on student assessment in 65 countries has found that 15 year olds in Cyprus ranked at the bottom of the list in reading skills, maths and science.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), presented in Brussels jointly with the European Commission, showed that the EU as a whole is seriously lagging behind in maths, but the picture is more encouraging in science and reading where Europe is on track to achieve its 2020 target for reducing the percentage of low achievers to below 15%.
In 2012, 32.8% of 15 year olds in Cyprus had poor skills in reading, the third worst in the EU after Bulgaria and Romania. A total of 42% of 15 year olds also exhibit problems in maths, ranking second worst after Bulgaria, while in sciences, the percentage was 38.6, which was the worst in the EU.
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, congratulated those member states which improved their performance, but underlined that “the EU as a whole needs to work harder. Member states must sustain their efforts to tackle low achievement in school education to ensure that youngsters have the skills they need to succeed in the modern world. The results are a reminder that investment in quality education is fundamental for Europe’s future."
In Maths, there was no progress in improving the percentage of low achievers at EU level since 2009. However, Estonia, Finland, Poland and the Netherlands are among the top performing countries world-wide with a rate of low achievers in maths below the EU benchmark of 15%.
There has been a steady improvement in science skills. The EU percentage of low achievers has dropped from 20.3% in 2006 to 17.8% in 2009 and 16.6% in 2012.
The new Erasmus+ programme for education, training and youth, which starts in January, will support projects aimed at developing and upgrading school education. The survey results can also help member states define priorities for support from the European Social Fund, which is a key source of investment in skills and training and can also improve education possibilities for vulnerable groups.
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