Cypriot children displayed below average competencies in the 2022 report of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).

Pisa surveys 15-year-old children in mathematics, reading and science, and grades them based on their performance. The survey’s results were presented on Wednesday at the education ministry.

Cypriot children scored an average of 418 points in mathematics, 411 in science and 381 in reading.

These scores were drastically lower than the European Union averages, which were 472 in mathematics, 480 in science and 468 in reading respectively. They also represent a continuing downward trend since Cyprus first participated in the survey in 2012. Some 6,515 15-year-old students from 101 public and private schools participated.

Cyprus’ average mathematics score of 418 was less than both Turkey, which had an average score of 453, and Greece, which had an average score of 430.

Other countries, including Vietnam, Brunei, Ukraine and Mongolia also saw higher average scores than Cyprus. Cyprus’ score was, however, one point higher than fellow EU member state Bulgaria.

The story was similar in science, with Cyprus’ average score of 411 less than both that of Turkey, with 476, and Greece, with 441.

Cyprus saw the same average score as both Colombia and Costa Rica and scored a lower average than countries such as Mongolia, Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania.

Cyprus’ average score in reading was a very low 381, which once again was less than Turkey’s average score of 456 and Greece’s average score of 438.

Countries such as Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Panama, and Serbia all scored higher than Cyprus in reading.

In Cyprus, girls displayed statistically higher performance than boys in all three disciplines. Girls across the EU generally performed better than boys in science and reading, but boys in other EU member states tended to outperform girls in mathematics.

In addition, there was a marked difference between the scores of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds in Cyprus, though the gap was narrower than the EU average.

Reacting to the disappointing results, the education ministry said it is implementing “new short-term, medium-term, and long-term policies” which will be aimed at “placing more emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and the development of our pupils’ skills.”

They added that they plan to improve the systems of examination for both students and teachers, working towards a full school day, expanding pre-primary education, and the prevention of bullying and violence in schools.

Additionally, they said they plan to integrate modern technologies into the education system and ensure a better connection with the labour market.