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Shock at literacy failings

CANADA

FORTY per cent of Ontario's 15 to 16-year-olds have failed the province's reading and writing test, it was revealed this week.

Girls fared better than boys but the results of both shocked education officials. Of the 126,000 pupils sitting the test, 69 per cent of girls passed both parts, compared with 55 per cent of boys; 17 per cent of boys failed both parts, compared with 10 per cent of girls. From next year pupils will not be able to graduate from high school without passing the test.

Janet Ecker, the minister of edcation, said: "It is a wake-up call for anybody who doubted the need for a new curriculum, for harder work by everyone in the system."

Statistics about reading and writing that were collected with the tests showed that while roughly the same percentage of girls and boys (80 and 78 per cent) write in emails and on chat lines, only 21 per cent of boys reported writing letters, journals or diaries compared with 76 per cent of girls.

Similarly, 63 per cent of girls reported reading novels while only 39 per cent of boys did.

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