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Italian speakers fare worst in student rankings

AFP · 6 Dec 2011, 10:51

Published: 06 Dec 2011 11:43 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Dec 2011 10:51 GMT+01:00

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Fifteen-year-old students in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland performed worst in tests for reading, mathematics and natural sciences, according to figures culled from an international education report.

Adolescents in French-speaking cantons showed the best reading skills, while school-goers in German-speaking regions scored highest in science subjects and mathematics.

The results come from a regional breakdown of figures from the latest Programme for International Student Assessment. Better known as the PISA report, it evaluates educational competence in the OECD countries every three years.

A year after Switzerland released the national results of the 2009 report, 13 of the 26 cantons have now presented their own figures. These show significant discrepancies between the three linguistic regions.

According to the department of education in Ticino, the poor results in the Italian-speaking part of the country are partly attributable to the fact that pupils finish their mandatory education at a younger age (15.1 years old) than students in German and French-speaking cantons (15.9).

Pupils in French speaking cantons topped the reading test with an average of 506 points, followed by German speakers with 502 points, and Ticino with 485.

These roles were reversed for mathematics, with German-speaking students excelling with an average of 539 points, compared to 530 in French-speaking cantons and 518 in the Italian-speaking region.

The results were similar for natural sciences, where German-speaking cantons produced the best results with 523 points, followed by the French-speaking region (500) and Ticino (493).

Cantons Aargau, Fribourg and Schaffhausen obtained the highest average score across the three subject areas, while Geneva produced the lowest aggregate results, followed by Ticino.

Zurich, the most populous canton in the country, was the worst performer among the German-speaking cantons.

The head of the canton's education department, Regine Aeppli, said the comparatively poor results in Zurich were linked to the fact that 29 percent of students belong to socially disadvantaged families or are the children of immigrants, Tages Anzeiger reports.

In all, Switzerland scored above average in the PISA study. The country's 501 points put it above the OECD average of 493.

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Your comments about this article

2011-12-10 05:36:19 by mike_1983
willowsdad. think thats because french and german speaking swiss consider themselves staunchly swiss! ask an italian swiss and 99% of the time they'll say they are italian first.... and if you are lucky swiss second. if it was unto them they break away and join italy, its only the benefits of living in switzerland that has stopped this debate from firing up again.
2011-12-10 05:34:05 by mike_1983
HAHA! so funny that this study backs up all stereotypes on germans and french speakers, guess its in the german DNA to excel at science and in french DNA to excel at language..... no amount of improved teaching can change this one, its inbuilt! as for the italians.... maybe its the "couldn't care less" attitude that is prevailing.
2011-12-06 14:45:54 by willowsdad
Maybe it's part of a cultural inferiority complex; a friend of mine in Milan believes that the Swiss "hate Italians and the worst are the Italian Swiss."
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