06 February 2018

General average illiteracy

Only 9.5% of Russian citizens know the answers to easy questions from the school curriculum

Levada Center survey


Residents of Russia were asked to answer seven questions from the school curriculum. Only 2.3% of respondents answered simple questions correctly, and another 7.2% gave correct answers to six tests. These are the data of a survey conducted by sociologists of the Levada Center.

The survey participants were asked the following questions: "an electron is smaller than an atom" (true), 45% of respondents could not give the correct answer or found it difficult to answer; "all radiation is created by man" (false) – 60%; "the sex of the child is determined by the genes of the father" (true) – 64%; "The laser works focusing sound waves" (false) – 70%; "Antibiotics kill not only bacteria, but also viruses" (false) – 54%; "The continents on which we live have been moving for millions of years and will continue to move in the future" (true) – 30%% "Ordinary plants – potatoes, tomatoes, etc. – do not contain genes, and genetically modified plants – contain" (false) – 58%.

According to the survey, in 2018, 9.5% of respondents demonstrated a "high" level of scientific literacy (6-7 tests) (in 2009 there were fewer of them – 6.7%).

The "average" level (4-5 tests) was passed by 30.5% (in 2009. – 28,0%).

The share of respondents with a "low" level of scientific literacy (0-3 tests) was 59.9% (in 2009 – 65.2%).

In general, from 2009 to 2018, there is a positive trend of increasing the level of scientific literacy. But if we take into account that all the tests are from the high school program, then the picture turns out to be sad.

At the same time, over the past nine years there has been one clear positive trend: more and more respondents correctly answer the test about the effect of antibiotics: in 2009 there were 23% of them, in 2018 – 34% (in 1996 – 13%!).

In addition, only 24% of Russian residents clearly understand that astrology is not a scientific field of knowledge, but in 2006 there were even fewer of them – 18%. That is, a positive shift has been observed over 12 years.

Among social groups, residents of Moscow (38%), the rich (34%), entrepreneurs (32%), managers of various levels and specialists (30%), respondents with higher education (29%), people aged 40-54 (28%) understand this better. The minimum indicator is in the group of respondents with below–average education.

The survey was conducted in January 2018. 1,612 respondents were interviewed on a representative sample of the adult population of the Russian Federation on the topic of scientific literacy and pseudoscience.


As reported by IA REGNUM, only 13% of citizens call the quality of school education in Russia good. 45% rate it as average. 30% of respondents consider the quality of education in Russian schools to be poor.

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