Study finds Irish students lack basic literacy and numeracy skills

Irish university students have one of the lowest understandings of basic literacy and numeracy in the developed world, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report, which was published at the end of January 2016, illustrated that only 20 per cent of university students are capable of understanding basic instructions, such as those in an instruction manual or reading a petrol gauge, but they would tend to have trouble with more perplexing tasks.

From the 23 countries that were examined, young adults in Ireland ages 16 to 19 years old ranked 18 out of 23 in literacy and 21 out of 23 in numeracy.

Almost 30 per cent of Irish teenagers aged between 16 and 19 years old struggle with anything more complex than simple mathematics.

The competency of Ireland’s university students in numeracy was superior only to that of England and the United States of America.

The report mainly focuses its attention on England but it also encompasses other countries as well for comparative purposes.

The calculations are based on data from the 2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competency carried out by the OECD.

The OECD report suggests that these students would be better suited to a further education system rather than proceeding to university.

They recommend that the government should take measures to inhibit those with lower levels of literacy and numeracy from entering third level education.

The report also advocates that extra efforts should be taken to improve literacy and numeracy education in post-primary schools so that the improvements can carry on into university level.

These suggestions are intended to decrease the number of drop outs and save the country a substantial amount of money.

Shauna Bowers

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