The study involved 10,000 youngsters from 280 different schools in Belgium's Flemish, Walloon and German language communities, and a total of half a million 15-year-olds in 65 different countries. The OECD applied its so-called PISA-research, the Programme for International Student Assessment.
The good news for Flanders is that the Flemish education system still belongs to the top in Europe. Flemish pupils are aces in maths, together with their Swiss colleagues. The average score the PISA maths tests in OECD countries is 494 points, while Flemish youngsters have 531 points. The French language community obtained a score of 493, just under the average, while the German community had 511.
Where science is concerned, the OECD average is 501 points. The different Belgian communities show a different result: 518 for Flanders, 487 for the French language community and 508 for the German-speaking pupils. Reading skills are also above average in Flanders.
"Our bonus is shrinking fast!"
However, while Flanders still boasts excellent scores in these different areas, the bonus is shrinking, and fast. "We retain our top position, but we are going down, significantly", the Flemish Education minister Pascal Smet (socialist) told the VRT.
The bad results also apply to pupils from different education levels, from weak pupils to bright children. The good news here is that the weakest pupils are making headway, closing the gap slowly but surely. There are calls to start up stimulation programmes for the average and even for the better pupils as well, to avoid a further deterioration.