Flanders’ pupils are best in Europe at maths

Summary

While the three-yearly OECD report shows that Flanders as a whole is doing very well at maths, science and literacy, the education minister wants to focus on those who aren’t keeping up

Gap is growing

Flanders is one of the world’s best regions for education, but about one in six of its 15-year-olds aren’t achieving the basic level for maths, sciences and literacy.

The figures come from the latest Programme for International Student Assessment, a global study conducted every three years by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Flanders’ scores put it among the frontrunners in the world. For maths, Flemish 15-year-olds are the highest in Europe and fifth worldwide. In sciences, the region achieved 10th place globally and third in Europe, while in literacy, it is in ninth place in the world and fifth in Europe.

However, the study shows that 17% of the participating Flemish pupils don’t have the minimum capacity necessary to be independent in society. The gap between poorly performing students and high-scoring students in Flanders is growing.

“We see that children from disadvantaged families and children who don’t speak Dutch at home are more likely to achieve low scores,” Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits told public broadcaster VRT. “We have to focus on this group, for example by providing more hours of basic education in the first two years of secondary school.”

Crevits also stressed the need for an obligatory eindterm – a final requirement to graduate from secondary school – on basic knowledge of language, maths, finances and digitisation. This idea is part of the discussion about the modernisation of secondary education.

Photo courtesy HoGent

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.
1

million school-going children in 2013

30

million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013

11

percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma