The Slovenia Times

Slovenian children worse at reading

Science & Education
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The literacy of Slovenian children has decreased for the first time since 2001, show the latest results of PIRLS, an international assessment of reading achievements of 10-year-olds.

The assessment includes a test of reading comprehension with passages of literary and informative texts and a background questionnaire for students, parents and teachers. It is administered every five years.

Scoring 520 points on average in the 2021 assessment, Slovenian fourth graders still ranked above the mean value of 500 points.

The results are nonetheless disappointing as they are 23 points below the result from 2016.  

Slovenia has been participating in the research since 2001 and was the only country recording a consistent increase in scores up until 2016.

The results from 2021 are a large set-back as they are just below Slovenia's achievement in 2006.

Out of the 57 participating countries, the majority saw the results drop in the 2021 assessment.

Singapore ranked first with 587 points, while South Africa placed last with 288. 

Slovenia's results were comparable with those of Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Malta, France, Serbia and Albania.

Girls outperform boys in most countries and Slovenia is no exception. Slovenian girls also enjoy reading more than boys.

In general, Slovenian children are less interested in reading than their peers around the globe. Only 28% love to read, while the international average is at 42%.

More concerning is the fact that the wellbeing of children has also worsened since 2016. One in four Slovenian children come to school tired every day and only a quarter never come to school tired. Similarly, one in four children come to school hungry every day but less than 10% never do.

The testing was performed in April and May of 2021 when children returned to the classrooms after schools had been closed for months.

Still, we should not give in to simple explanations and should instead explore other possible causes for a decrease in literacy, said Maja Mihelič Debeljak, head of the Office for the Development and Quality of Education at the Education Ministry.

Education Minister Darjo Felda said the results would be used by decision-makers in finalising an action plan to develop reading literacy, and include them in the upcoming curricula.

Experts agree that the drop in results is not something to be overly worried about but does call for a thorough rethink by all stakeholders.

Director of the Educational Research Institute Igor Žnidaršič Žagar said that results of other foreign studies showed one of the reasons for the decline in reading literacy could be the increased screen-time children are subjected to.


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