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Experts call on EU to address literacy crisis
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Published on 06-09-12

EU member states need to overhaul their approach to improving literacy standards, according to a high-level group of literacy experts . In a report published today, they highlight changes in the nature of work, the economy and society more generally, mean literacy is even more important than ever in today's world and Europe should aim for 100% functional literacy among all its citizens.

    Experts call on EU to address literacy crisis

    The report includes a raft of recommendations, ranging from advice for parents on creating a culture of reading for pleasure with their children, to siting libraries in unconventional settings like shopping centres and the need to attract more male teachers to act as role models for boys, who read much less than girls.

    It also makes age-specific recommendations, calling for free, high-quality early childhood education and care for all, more specialist reading teachers in primary schools, a change of mind-set on dyslexia, arguing that almost every child can learn to read with the right support, and for more varied learning opportunities for adults, especially in the workplace.

    The 80-page report provides examples of successful literacy projects in European countries, including London's Evening Standard's "Get London Reading" campaign.  As well as spotlighting individuals who have overcome the taboo of illiteracy and transformed their lives. It also seeks to dispel common myths about literacy.

    The European Commission set-up the High Level Group of Experts to examine the most effective and efficient ways of supporting reading literacy throughout life.

    Note: The Commission's role does not in any way infringe the exclusive competence of member states in organising the structure and content of their education systems.


    One in five 15 year olds, as well as nearly 75 million adults, lack basic reading and writing skills, making getting a job difficult and increasing the risk of poverty and social exclusion.

    In the UK, the ratio of low achievers in reading among 15 year olds is 18.4%, compared to 19.6% across the EU (2009 figures).

    As in other countries, there is a large gender gap in the UK, with low achievement more prevalent among boy (23.1%) than girls (14%).

    Member States have committed to reduce the ratio of low-achieving 15 year olds in reading literacy to 15% at most, by the end of the decade.


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    Last update: 12/09/2012  |Top