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Concerns over student illiteracy

In a startling OECD study, it was found that up to 6% of Irish university graduates are functionally illiterate—meaning their reading and writing skills are ‘inadequate to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level’. These rates, collected in 2012, are significantly higher than in Finland (2%) or the Netherlands (3%), though similar to the UK (7%). The government’s goal is for Ireland to have the best education and training system in Europe by 2026, yet Mr Dirke Van Damme, a senior official at OECD, says these figures show Ireland ‘around the middle’. Mr Van Damme says that after reflecting on these percentages, ‘There is certainly a need for much better data on what students are actually learning in terms of skills in universities’, and that there may even be a need to evaluate the Irish educational system as a whole in the coming years.

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