Generation Lockdown: Quarter of Fourth Graders Cannot Read Properly

19 January 2023, North Rhine-Westphalia, Duisburg: A student learns on an iPad in a class
Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

One in four fourth-graders in Germany cannot read properly post-lockdown, international research has shown.

Data published as part of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) has found that one in four fourth graders in Germany cannot read properly as of 2021.

The data has contributed to fears that the country’s prolonged COVID lockdown has badly damaged a generation of children, with the country’s government warning that nearly three-quarters of children in the country have been left with mental health difficulties as a result of COVID restrictions.

According to a report by Die Welt, PIRLS researchers looking into Germany found that 25 per cent of fourth graders in the country could not read to a level that was sufficient for their academic advancement into a higher grade, with children in the country falling well below their peers in other European states.

The results have been described as “alarming” by those involved, with the poor performance likely to damage the ability of pupils to perform in other classes not directly to do with language and literature.

Overall, the report cannot determine whether the poor reading skills of young people in Germany are down to lockdown or some other factor, with other countries with major lockdown strategies, such as Ireland, performing extremely well in the study.

However, other research done in the country does appear to indicate that lockdown has had major negative effects on the country’s children.

One study published last year in the country also found that the reading ability of fourth graders in the country had fallen considerably since pre-pandemic times, with over one-quarter of pupils having problems with their reading comprehension abilities.

More broadly, the country’s government has expressed regret regarding how strict the country’s lockdown regime has been over the last number of years, with officials saying that around three in four young people have now been left with some sort of mental health issues as a result of lockdown.

“73 per cent of young people are still extremely stressed by the restrictions during the pandemic,” Family Minister Lisa Paus admitted earlier this year.

Other researchers have opted to brand children as being the “biggest losers” from Germany’s draconian lockdowns, with the country’s youngest reportedly bearing the worst long-term consequences to their health.

Germany is not the only place where Children are being hit with the consequences of lockdown, with the UK seeing a spike in antidepressant usage amongst children during lockdown, with many being left requiring speech support after the long periods of government-mandated social isolation.

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