Thomas Tolstrup

12-year-olds scoring worse for maths and ICT: "Alarming", says Education Minister

Pupils in the last year of elementary school are scoring worse for mathematics and ICT than 5 years ago, a large-scale poll shows. Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) calls the results "alarming, as the previous poll of 2016 was already not good. "  

Soundings were taken from over 6,000 pupils from more than 300 classes. In general, pupils have poorer results for mathematics than at tests taken in 2009 and 2016.  

Pupils had to do total of 21 different tests. Only in 5 of these 21 tests did at least 75 percent get a sufficient result. In 6 tests not even half of the pupils managed to get at least 50 percent of what should be "basic knowledge" or so-called "minimum targets" according to Flemish education standards.   

Calculating a surface or a content, or just basic calculations like multiplying figures or working with percentages turn out to be too difficult for many. 

In general, boys are doing better, as do children that only speak Dutch at home, children with a higher socio-economic status and children from parents with a positive attitude towards mathematics.

The corona crisis should not serve as an excuse. Mathematics should be basic knowledge

Education Minister Ben Weyts says that the results should be put into perspective due to corona. "We are paying a price for collective closures of schools," he says. But on the other hand, this should not serve as an excuse, he adds. "Maths should be basic knowledge. The result of this poll are worse those that in 2016, which were already not so good. We should take this seriously, this is alarming." Expert Mieke Goos, who was involved in the poll, thinks that there is too much differentiation. 

Apart from mathematics, ICT skills are also relatively poor, test results taken from 447 12-year-olds from 83 different schools reveal. "Pupils succeed in finding digital content, but are scoring worse when it comes to making the selection of the right result. "We will invest about 500 million in Digisprong, to allow schools to focus more on digital skills, also elementary schools", the minister says. 

Top stories