Bulgarian Youth Increasingly Illiterate, Overweight
The knowledge of Bulgarian students begins to collapse in elementary school, not in middle school as it was earlier, according to recent research.
In addition to being largely-illiterate, the youngsters have unhealthy eating habits, are physically inactive and more and more of them are overweight.
According to a PIRLS study on reading literacy for 2011, cited by the Bulgarian Sega (Now) daily, since 2006, Bulgarian children fell 12 spots in the ranking – from the 10th to the 22nd position (out of 49 countries in the region) and are no longer among the world's elite in literacy.
Nevertheless, Bulgarian fourth graders have achieved 532 points, while the average for participants in the study is 500.
The Bulgarian Education Ministry is yet to comment on the results.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of young students. PIRLS studies the reading achievement and reading behaviors and attitudes of 4th-grade students in the United States and students in the equivalent of 4th grade in other participating countries.
The first administration of PIRLS was in 2001, and included 36 education systems (including countries and subnational entities, such as Canadian provinces and Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China). It was followed five years later by the second administration in 2006 to students in 45 education systems. The third and latest administration of PIRLS was in 2011, with 53 education systems participating at grade 4. PIRLS is coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).
Hong Kong (571), Russia (568) and Singapore (567) lead the ranking.
Slovenia (530), New Zealand (531) and Slovakia (535) have scores similar to Bulgaria.
However, countries such as Austria, France, Spain, Norway, and French-speaking Belgium, are behind Bulgaria. Neighboring Romania follows a trend opposite to Bulgaria – from 489 points in 2006 to 502 points in 2011.
Morocco (310) and Oman (391) are last in the ranking.
Bulgaria also lags in the share of students achieving top results – the share of Bulgarian students with a score of 625 is 11%, compared to 8% average for all countries in 2011, and 16% for Bulgaria in 2006.
According to PIRLS standards, students with high scores can read, understand and interpret relatively complex information in stories and articles with 800 to 1 000 words.
Their share in Singapore is 24%, followed by children in fourth grade in Russia, Northern Ireland, Finland, England, Hong Kong, and Israel – between 15% and 19%.
Meanwhile, a study of the National Center for Public Health shows that Bulgarian children grow increasingly overweight because they eat unhealthy food at school. More and more consume energy beverages and alcohol in early ages.
28% of the polled children consume daily French fries, chips, and candy.
Bulgarian young girls are second in Europe by the overweight rate while boys are third.
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