In 2016, a study aimed at analyzing trends in literacy and literate behavior in more than sixty (60) countries revealed that Nordic countries hold the prestige of being the most literate nations. Finland ranks Number 1, followed by Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, completing the top 5 placers in the list. The United States landed the 7th position, while the United Kingdom managed to make it in the 17th spot.
The study was conducted by the Central Connecticut State University, with no less than the late university President Emeritus Dr. John W. Miller, at the helm. In explaining the reason behind the study, Dr. Miller had remarked
“The factors examined present a complex and nuanced portrait of a nation’s cultural vitality”…” the rankings strongly suggest and world literacy demonstrates that these kinds of literate behaviours are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economics that define our global future.”
Criteria on Which Rankings were Based
The criteria on which rankings were based were different variables associated with tested literacy achievements: specifically performance scores on Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Additionally, 15 sets of variables categorized as 1. Computer Availability, 2. Education System-Inputs, 3. Education System-Outputs, 4. Newspapers, and 5. Libraries, were likewise assessed. .
Population was also taken into consideration in establishing ratios on a per capita basis.
On contentions that scores of international students who took the PIRLS and PISA are sufficient measures of how one country fares better than the other, Dr. Miller explained that the test scores can change the results of the rankings. He mentioned that if the rankings were based on PIRLS and PISA performances alone, countries located in the Pacific Rim, namely South Korea (Ranked No. 22), Japan (Ranked 32), Singapore (Ranked No. 36), and China (Ranked No. 39) would have topped the list.
Yet if size and accessibility of library are factored in, the ranking of the Pacific Rim group would drop drastically. Under the same conditions, Finland will remain as the only Nordic country to rank high.
About the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
The PIRLS is an international comparative assessment designed to gauge student learning in reading, on a global scale. Administered on 4th graders, PIRLS also assesses school and teacher pratices related to reading instruction.
About the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)
The PISA is an international assessment, measuring the literacy of 15-year-old students, in science, mathematics and reading. Administered every three years, the assessment also gauges general competencies, whilst giving emphasis to functional skills developed by students as they reach completion of compulsory schooling.