The National Literacy Report: 89% of the middle school students have a non-functional or minimally functional literacy level

  • 42% of the 1st through 8th grade students, tested for literacy, received the “non-functional” score, meaning that they would not be able to properly understand an event poster or traffic signs

  • 47% of the 1st through 8th grade students fall under the “minimally functional” literacy level, for example, they would not be able to understand the provisions of an employment contract

  • Upon completing the primary and middle school cycles, the students’ non-functionality level only decreases by 3.95%

Bucharest, April 28, 2023 – The second issue of the “Report on the literacy levels of students in Romania”, published by BRIO with AVE’s support, shows that only 11% of the 1st through 8th grade students in Romania have obtained the “functional” score for the literacy skills, meaning they are able to locate, understand and summarise the information in a written text. Of the tested students, 42% fell under the “non-functional” level, which renders them as functional illiterates, whereas approximately 47% of them fall into the “minimally functional” category.

The report was drawn up based on approximately 15,000 valid tests taken by 1st through 8th grade students, from all the regions of the country, during the April 2022 – March 2023 period. The results show that literacy level is generally consistent for the 6-14 age categories. As such, if the percentage of 6-year-old non-functional students is 44.34%, it reaches 40.39% for 14-year-old students, meaning that the non-functionality level only decreases by 3.95% at the end of their primary and middle school cycles. The “Report on the literacy levels of students in Romania” can be accessed here.

“What we see in this survey can be read in terms of percentages, mere data or it can be read always thinking about the children in these statistics. I would like us to see in these percentages children who need our help, everybody’s help, to be able to function in society 8, 10, 12 or 20 years from now. It is not percentages that need to decrease or, as the case may be, increase, but the ability of these children, of the first 42%, and then of the following 47%, to understand what they read, to interact with the written text. Functional illiteracy does not disappear when the child leaves the formal education system, it is a shadow that sticks around their whole life and darkens a large portion of that life, preventing them to make any kind of progress as an individual”, stated Gabi Bartic, CEO BRIO.

Over the past 12 months, via the BRIO platform, students in Romania have had the possibility to test their literacy level, by means of assessing three components, namely locating the information, understanding and assessing it and reflecting upon it. The students who fell under the “functional” literacy level have demonstrated that they can interpret and integrate ideas and information from a given text, can infer cause-and-effect relations, hypotheses, can determine similarities and differences between characters, actions, events or concepts and can formulate the overall conclusion of a text.

“One of the goals of the România Educată (Educated Romania) project, translated into the Laws on education, is to decrease functional illiteracy. To that end, the Draft law on pre-academic education mentions concrete endeavours, the most significant being The National Programme for Training Teachers in order to Increase Students’ Functional Literacy Levels. It includes the Functional literacy platform, which will contain tests drawn up in line with the functional literacy standards to be applied on a yearly basis, in order to substantiate the intervention measures required for each student to reach their potential. The goal of these measures is to lower by 50% the functional illiteracy rate by 2030”, said Ligia Deca, Minister of Education.

The data in the “Report on the literacy levels of students in Romania” was collected using an assessment tool (a test) developed with support from AVE and other NGOs: Teach for Romania, InfinitEdu, The Romanian Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Association, OvidiuRo Asociation, Noi Orizonturi (New Horizons) Foundation, Asociaţia Română de Literație (The Romanian Literacy Association). Since 2021, the literacy assessment test has been included on free platform and, as of 2022, the testing effectiveness has been significantly improved by Digital Nation, a technology partner.

500 primary school teachers have spent 5,200 hours on to teach children to write and to read

Primary school teachers’ role is crucial for all the elementary cycle pupils to learn to write and read by the end of the 4th grade, which is precisely why they need user-friendly solutions in class, adapted to each pupil’s needs. digital platform makes it possible for primary school teachers to test the pupils’ literacy level and provides access to activities based on a guided pathway, by means of which they can work in class depending on each pupil’s results. is underpinned by 600 school texts from the accredited student coursebooks and relies on the school syllabus. Teachers can thus choose the module and the coursebook text they wish to use in class. To date, 500 primary school teachers have tested the platform and have spent this year 5,200 hours to select and use some of the 25,000 literacy exercises.

“At AVE, we want to become the tool that provides primary school teachers with all the resources needed to identify and elevate pupils’ literacy level. To improve literacy skills, it is not enough to intervene just once, but to carry out a long-term intervention that any child can have access to, regardless of their current literacy level. We have a common responsibility to support all those engaged in this process, considering that, without prioritising literacy skills, we jeopardise the chances of children in Romania reaching their potential”, explained Silvia Toth, AVE Educational Programmes Manager. literacy platform and „Report on the literacy levels of students in Romania” are supported by BRD GROUPE SOCIETE GENERALE, BRD Asigurări de Viață, BRD Asset Management and Societe Generale Global Solution Centre. The literacy test can be accessed for free by both students (grades 1st through 8th) and primary and middle school teachers.

“The results of these tests lead us to a single conclusion: we need to merge forces and continue to find methods in order to address these gaps. The Alfabetar programme is part of the solution, which is why, BRD together with other local companies, members of Société Générale Group, decided to back it. We need to have all our children turn into competent youngsters and adults, capable to understand their rights and responsibilities in their future roles in life, whichever these may be. This is how we understand to contribute to Romania’s transformation for the better, and it is our duty and right not to accept to lave anyone behind”, said Flavia Popa, Secretary General of BRD Groupe Société Générale.

About BRIO

BRIO® is the first and only standardised digital testing platform for the Romanian students. By means of the BRIO® school tests, Romanian students from grades 1 through 12 can objectively assess their knowledge levels in the main academic subjects and improve their exam performance. The standardised tests are developed based on scientific measuring principles, so that the questions, the scoring and interpreting procedures should be the same for all the persons taking the respective test. The score of a standardised test cannot be subjectively influenced, as it does not depend on the assessor’s leniency or severity or the easiness or complexity of the questions. BRIO® is approved by the Ministry of Education and Research, the Testing System being a scientific product designed based on the school syllabus in Romania and conceived by a team of teachers and international experts in testing and psychometry.

About AVE

AVE (The Association for Values in Education) is a non-profit organisation whose main goal is to bring the educational system in Romania to Europe’s top 10 by 2035. is the digital platform designed to prevent and eliminate literacy gaps in pupils (writing, reading and text comprehension), upgraded with the help of Digital Nation. The platform obtained the “Best Digital Content Solution” award, under the “Learning & Education” section, at the World Summit Awards (WSA) – Young Innovators 2021. Also, AVE coordinates the Leadership and Educational Management Academy, Edu Networks and HumanKind programmes.

About Digital Nation

Digital Nation is one of the largest digitalisation organisations in the country and one of the most active in the region, which has been developing since 2013 sustainable programmes such as Generația Tech (The Tech Generation), IMM Online, Profesor în Online (Online Teacher), Gata de Bac (Ready for Baccalaureate) or Work Retreat. With more than 50,000 beneficiaries in over 32 regions, Digital Nation focuses on the nationwide impact of elevating the population’s digital skills, digitalisation and training for present-day and future jobs.