There is nothing wrong with arts and belles lettres, they have their place like anything else, especially at the University level. Universities are not supposed to cover basics. Most fresh high school grads I've seen in college in the US were pretty far from being able to deal with binomial equations. Basic algebra was hard enough. Many couldn't balance a check book either. What was lacking was simply the ability to think quantitatively. That's how they can, years later, be convinced to make the biggest purchase of their life (a house), with a variable interest rate loan, which is a complete aberration to anyone able to think quantitatively. I learned that kind of thinking when I was 9 and 10 by doing faucets and leaky buckets problems (and some days it even evaporated), trains crossing each other and so forth. However, as far as I could tell, here in the US and other developed countries as well, the failure chiefly resided with the parents.