Posted on January 20, 2005

Widespread Illiteracy Among City Students

Copenhagen Post, January 13, 2005

One in every four of Copenhagen’s teenage students is practically illiterate. A new PISA study shows that the majority of bilingual schoolchildren have almost no reading skills.

One fourth of Copenhagen’s 15-year-old students have too limited reading skills to be likely to find a job in the future.

A new PISA international education study shows that students in 15 out of the city’s 96 schools rank among the world’s worst readers. They fared worse in the test than their academic peers in Brazil, who hit the bottom in PISA’s education study of 31 countries in 2000.

The study showed that more than half of students with immigration background are practically illiterate.

“This is an enormous problem,” said Niels Egelund, Professor at Denmark’s University of Education. “The schools have to demand more from both students and teachers. It’s especially worrying that we seem to have failed half of our bilingual students.”

The test results came as a blow to many politicians, who agreed that the city’s educational system seemed to have failed.

But Liberal Education Minister Ulla Tørnæs said she did not find the results surprising. Bilingual students needed to be distributed more evenly between the city’s schools to receive proper education.

“We take the PISA test seriously,” Tørnæs said. “We will add more school hours for the youngest children, more tests on every level and spread bilingual students between schools.”

Teacher Training to Focus on Danish as a Second Language

DR Nyheder (Frederiksberg, Denmark), January 13, 2005

The PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment, report has again caused alarm with its damning conclusions about Danish schools.

This time it reveals that half of all 9th grade second generation immigrants in Copenhagen lack basic reading skills.

The Copenhagen Mayor responsible for Education and Youth, Per Bregengaard, says the report contains faults which obscure the reality, claiming that some of the graphics and conclusions do not always tally.

Despite his reservations he is nevertheless concerned that second generation immigrants reportedly perform less well in school than their parents.

In a press meeting today he said “I believe that improved further education and coaching of teachers and using people specialised in teaching bilingual students will go some way to ease the problem.”

There is unanimity in Copenhagen City Council that efforts need to be focussed on this area.

Education Minister, Ulla Tørnæs, has called for all teaching institutions to teach “Danish as a second language” to better equip teachers in the teaching of non Danish mother tongues students.