Literacy levels

Published: Thursday 15 January 1998

according to a study conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd), nearly half of American adults have trouble with common mental demands of life in reading newspapers, filling out job applications or balancing a chequebook. "Low literacy is a problem everywhere," the report said.

The oecd which conducted the study among 12 Western industrialised nations found that Swedes scored best and Poles worst in the International Adult Literacy Survey. There was no statistically significant difference among Americans, Australians, Belgians, Britons, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, Irish, New Zealanders and the Swiss. The report found high levels of college education among Americans and at the same time high levels of high-school dropout rates. In the us , 46 per cent were below the level of reading prose, 49 per cent in reading documents and 46 per cent in mathematics. The report also suggests that workers who do not use their mental skills lose them.

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