One in four students across 36 wealthy countries are lacking basic reading skills and would struggle in an increasingly volatile, digital world, the organisation for economic cooperation said.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) made this known on Tuesday in its 2018 PISA educational attainment study showed that the share of low performers had increased on average since 2009, the last time reading was the main focus of the survey.
OECD added that most countries, particularly in the developed world, have seen little improvement in their performances over the past decade, even though spending on schooling increased by 15 per cent over the same period.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria singled out Estonia as an exception, however, saying it had advanced rapidly towards the top even though spending about 30 per cent less than the OECD average.
Portugal, Sweden, and Turkey also recorded major improvements.
Around one in 10 students across OECD countries, rising to one in four in Singapore, performed at the highest levels in reading.
Students in China and Singapore, meanwhile, were far ahead of those in OECD countries in maths.
In Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang in China 16.5 per cent of students performed at the top level in maths, as did 13.8 per cent in Singapore – compared with only 2.4 per cent in OECD member states.
The 2018 PISA study tested about 600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries and regions, including the OECD’s 36 mainly wealthy member states.