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Dysortography and dyslexia epidemic in Polish schools

Dysortography and dyslexia epidemic in Polish schools

Image source: © canva
Natalia Witulska,
27.03.2024 13:15

Up to a quarter of school-aged children struggle with dyslexia and dysorthography. Teachers are calling for action to address this epidemic.

In the past, it was uncommon to have a student with dyslexia or dysorthography in a classroom. However, nowadays, educators warn that up to 25% of students have reading, writing, and learning difficulties. This trend is particularly noticeable before exams, as more and more students are diagnosed with these problems.

This issue is so concerning that teachers and professionals are now calling it an epidemic. They try to understand why there is a significant increase in the number of children with learning difficulties and are concerned that this could become the norm in the future.

Dyslexia, dysorthography, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. What are they really about?

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the ability to read and write despite receiving standard teaching methods, having an average intelligence level, and having favourable socio-cultural conditions.

Dysorthography is a specific disorder that affects writing skills. It manifests itself in spelling mistakes despite one’s knowledge of spelling rules and having adequate motivation to write correctly. Although dysorthography can be improved, complete resolution of symptoms is rare.

Dysgraphia, conversely, is a complete or partial loss of writing skills caused by central visual and auditory function disorders or micro-damage to the central nervous system. It often occurs in individuals with ADHD or speech abnormalities, and their handwriting is typically unsightly and illegible.

Dyscalculia, on the other hand, is a developmental disorder that affects counting and mathematics skills.

Dysorthography and dyslexia epidemic in schools

Aneta Tołoczko-Hordyj, the headmistress of Primary School No. 28 in Warsaw, recently revealed in an interview with radiozet.pl that a growing number of students bring certificates of various kinds of learning difficulties. She gave specific figures, referring to the school where she teaches, and said that out of 600 students, as many as 150 have an opinion from a specialist, equivalent to 25% of all students in her school. Consequently, some teachers have classes where more and more students require extra attention.

The Central Examination Commission collected the available data and made it available to Radio ZET journalists. According to the report, in 2023, 16% of those taking the eighth-grade exam had a certificate from a pedagogical and psychological counselling centre about specific learning difficulties, which equates to nearly 75,800 pupils. This is an increase compared to 2018 when only 15% of pupils with such a certificate took the lower secondary school exam.

The same trend is noticeable for the Matura exams, where every year, more and more pupils are diagnosed with learning disorders. Some might argue that this phenomenon did not exist in the past and that kids are making it up as they go along. However, Natalia Pacocha, the deputy director of School and Kindergarten Complex No. 4 in Łódź, disagrees with such an opinion. She stresses that these problems were not diagnosed in the past but were always present. She also pointed out that "science is developing, and we are now more aware" of such issues.

Specialists emphasise that the most important thing is to work regularly with children who have learning difficulties. With proper attention and dedication, such pupils can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge they will later use in the eighth-grade or Matura exams.

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