French school children ranked worst at reading in Europe

French school children ranked worst at reading in Europe
Photo: AFP
French school children aged 9 to 10 have been ranked the worst in Europe for their reading skills, marking a steady decline in levels since 2001, a new study has revealed.
It's not good news for French schools. 
The study by PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), which has been carried out every five years since 2001, ranks the reading skills of school children aged 9 to 10 in 50 countries. 
Thousands of French school pupils took part in the study in the spring of 2016, answering a series of comprehension questions on literary and informative texts.
And the results weren't good news, with the country coming last in Europe and 34th overall on a list that saw Russia claim the top spot, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland and Finland. 
France received a total of 511 points in the survey, which was led by the IEA, a Dutch consulting firm specializing in comparative studies of international school systems. 
This score puts French children 25 points below the average for children participating in other European Union countries (544 points). 
By comparison, Russia received 581 points and England, which was ranked tenth, received 559 points. 
Infograph: Le Parisien
And the low ranking marks a trend for France, which is one of just two countries to see their scores steadily decline since the study began in 2001, along with the Netherlands. 
In 2011, the country received 520 points and when the study began in 2001, it received 532 points.
When looking at the results closely, it appears that French schoolchildren were fairly successful when it came to answering simple questions about texts, for example the names of major characters.
However when the questions involved interpretation, for example, using information from an informative text to build reasoning, French children had trouble.
Third of French primary schools to return to a four-day week
Photo: AFP 
But why?
It doesn't seem to be a question of time dedicated to the subject, with French schools spending an average of 37 percent of their time teaching reading, compared to an average of 27 percent in other countries. 
But while French teachers are equally as experienced as their counterparts, they were also found by the study to be the least satisfied with their job and teaching conditions. 
France is also among the countries that gives the least amount of teacher training, with the study revealing that 38 percent of schoolchildren were taught by teachers who did not receive continuous training to teach reading in the two years preceding the survey.
This rate is well above the average of other countries studied which stood at 16 percent. 

Why schools are to blame for the French being so glumPhoto: AFP