Some young people in the EU lack basic reading and writing skills, which makes it harder for them to find a job and puts them at risk of social exclusion. Several EU policies seek to improve this situation.For instance,in 2008, the European Commission unveiled a strategy for improving the key competences, including literacy and numeracy, of all pupils through greater European co-operation. In addition, the EU's Comenius programme, which aims to boost the quality of school education in Europe, funds numerous literacy-related projects.
As a basic skill, literacy is the foundation of the key competences - the knowledge, skills and attitudes that help people gain personal fulfillment and employability, and which enable them to take part in society Good literacy levels are crucial for engaging in all forms of learning and for the motivation to continue school. Improving literacy from an early age and providing adequate support to those lagging behind later in their school years are important ways to reaching the EU's commitment to reduce early school leaving to below 10% by 2020.
There is a considerable achievement gap between migrants and native students in literacy. Reducing this achievement gap is one of the main priorities of EU level co-operation on the education of migrants. One of the most cost-effective ways to enhance literacy levels is to increase participation in good-quality early childhood education and care.
The quality of the education experienced by pupils is linked directly to the quality of teaching. But the demands placed upon teachers are increasing and changing, and the education they receive is not always adequate. One of the priorities for EU Member States is to improve teacher quality and teacher education.
In 2010, Education Ministers across the EU agreed on the importance of literacy as part of the basic skills. A number of areas for developing further co-operation at EU level were identified:
These topics were followed up by the High Level Group on Literacy between 2011 and mid-2012.