Magazine article European Social Policy

Education : Reading Skills Need Improving, Study Finds

Magazine article European Social Policy

Education : Reading Skills Need Improving, Study Finds

Article excerpt

In spite of the commitments made by member states, the proportion of young people with reading difficulties is not shrinking in Europe. This is the finding of a study, published on 11 July, entitled Teaching reading in Europe: Contexts, policies and practices'. Conducted by the Eurydice network for the European Commission, it shows that one in five teenagers and many adults do not know how to read properly in the EU27, a situation that has evolved little since the start of the 2000s.

In 2009, the member states set the target of bringing down the share of poor readers from 20% to less than 15% by 2020(1). At present, only Belgium (Flemish community), Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Poland have achieved this target. Bulgaria and Romania are showing very alarming results. The number of 15-year-olds with reading difficulties is close to 40%, certainly due to "the phenomenon of migration and the country's socio-economic situation," according to Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (education, culture, multilingualism and youth).

LACK OF TARGETED PROGRAMMES

The study addresses four themes: teaching approaches, tackling reading difficulties, teacher education and the promotion of reading outside school. It concludes that, "whereas most countries have set objectives in relation to reading comprehension, they often lack sufficiently broad strategies in national guidelines, especially in lower secondary education".

The study identifies a number of shortcomings in terms of promoting reading and providing support for the learning process. It states that the promotion of reading too often addresses general audiences and not necessarily those more likely to experience reading difficulties (such as boys, young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or whose mother tongue is different from the language of instruction). …

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