With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Lifelong Learning Programme
Writing Reading Inclusion Towards European Reinassance

Reading and writing are two key competences for successful lifelong learning [Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning]. These are essential tools in the development of a person’s identity. Throughout the lifelong journey of growing and learning, from childhood to maturity, the attainment of economic independence, which often includes the development of the individual’s creative capacity and their increased social awareness it is an undeniable fact that reading and writing competencies are crucial.

Given that all educational phases in the various education programs and training initiatives, from basic skills induction to higher levels of vocational training, are fundamentally grounded in attaining and developing reading and writing skills we could be forgiven for thinking that they would be and are properly taken into consideration and given the weight necessary so that the objectives of this ‘core business’ of education are fully achieved.

The situation seems to be slightly different, indeed almost contradictory.

On the one hand it has been reported, for example, that in 2009 approximately one out of five 15-years olds in the European Union had reading difficulties [Teaching Reading in Europe: Contexts, Policies and Practices, Eurydice Report. 2011]. The ‘Working session on overcoming functional illiteracy’ held during the G8 Summit of Deauville has remarked as In Europe, an estimated 80 million people have insufficient command of reading, writing and basic  arithmetic skills. Yet on the other hand, the development of the creative, economically independent and socially responsible, active citizen (and the importance of the creative industries, books and book publishing sector in that regard) demands reading and writing competencies, which are evidently not being achieved.

It easy to argue that the lack or loss of these skills not only undermines the competitive potential of the European Union but vitally, the actual ‘texture’ of existing social cohesion and the possibility and necessity for developing multicultural dialogue. Reading and writing skills need to be the focus of a far more powerful endeavour to reinforce relevant and existing actions and initiatives, which increasingly must be given a culture-wide targeted approach.