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Basic literacy and numeracy skills lacking in many French youngsters

FRANCE: Almost one in 10 French youngsters lacks basic reading, writing and numeracy skills, according to the defence ministry.

The ministry has set up a support system for those most in difficulty with the help of its education counterpart.

Literacy tests given to young men and women aged 18 to 25 during their "call-up and preparation for defence day" - which has replaed national service - revealed that 70,000 fell below the required standard last year. This represents 11.5 per cent of men and 7.1 per cent of women.

The ministries have arranged for agencies that specialise in tackling illiteracy to attend call-up centres and identify the young people with the greatest problems. They should then be offered help for up to a year.

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