Underachievement in reading

In 2015, in Belgium 19.5% of the students aged 15 had insufficient reading skills. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must decrease. The trend since 2000 is undetermined.

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Underachievement in reading - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of 15-year-old students

 2000200320062009201220152015//20002015//2009
Belgium19.017.919.417.716.119.50.21.6
EU2719.820.822.619.517.819.70.00.2
//: Average Growth Rates

2015: EU28

OECD; Eurostat (2019), Underachieving 15-year-old students by sex and field - PISA survey [educ_outc_pisa]; https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 03/04/2019).

Underachievement in reading by sex - Belgium

percentage of 15-year-old students

 2000200320062009201220152015//20002015//2009
females14.113.013.413.811.817.01.33.5
males22.822.424.921.520.422.0-0.20.4
//: Average Growth Rates

OECD; Eurostat (2019), Underachieving 15-year-old students by sex and field - PISA survey [educ_outc_pisa]; https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 03/04/2019).

Definition: the indicator measures the proportion of 15-year-old students who do not reach level 2 (elementary level) of the PISA scale for reading performance. It is one of the three key areas of learning, alongside mathematics and sciences. The data come from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international survey conducted every three years to assess the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. In Belgium, the tests are carried out by the universities of Ghent and Liege. Since these data are based on surveys, a margin of uncertainty should be taken into account. The confidence intervals can be found on the OECD website, on the PISA data pages.

Goal: the proportion of 15-year-old students with inadequate reading skills must decrease.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 4.6: "By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy".

International comparison: the share of 15-year-old students with insufficient reading proficiency develops very similarly in Belgium and in the EU. The share was always lower in Belgium than in the EU. The lowest gap was recorded in 2015 (barely 0.2 percentage points) as a result of a more significant increase between 2012 and 2015. Eurostat also warns, in its comments on OECD figures, against a Europe-wide decline in school performance in all three key areas. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performance and performs better than the European average in 2017.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 4.6.1 - Proportion of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills.

Sources

  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).