Reading coalition: ‘Able to read is a basic need’

Reading is not going well in the Netherlands, that has been clear for quite some time now. Under the leadership of the ‘Leescoalition’, educational and cultural organisations call the Ministry of Education and Culture on Tuesday with a manifesto that calls for an ambitious Leesoffensive.

The core of the manifesto is that education minister Arie Slob and Minister of Culture Ingrid Engelshoven take joint action to develop an active reading policy, in which reading pleasure is given an essential role. Or, that the โ€œO โ€œand โ€œC โ€œfrom the Ministry of Education and Culture will work together more. The Leescoalition, a collaboration between Stichting Lezen, Stichting CPNB, Stichting Lezen en Writing, Literatuurmuseum/Kinderboekenmuseum, the Royal Library, the Association of Public Libraries and the Dutch Foundation for Literature, calls good reading skills ‘a basic need for everyone’. In order to ensure equal opportunities for everyone in the Netherlands, it is very important to invest in good learning to read.

Some 2.5 million people in the Netherlands are not sufficiently readable to participate successfully in society, notes the Leescoalition.

And this has far-reaching consequences: ‘Large groups of children can not come along well at school and get behind early. In all population groups in the Netherlands, the ability to read deeply and concentrated is declining. We are on a sliding scale and only active and well-founded reading policy can turn the tide. ‘

Good intentions

There are countless initiatives in the Netherlands to promote reading and according to the Leescoalition, there is also no lack of good intentions. There is a wide range of measures, actions and websites. However, the authors of the Reading Manifesto feel that there is no sense of urgency, as well as coherence in reading policy and cooperation in the public authorities and in the field (between educational parties, youth health and reading promotion organisations). They also lack an overarching vision.

The main objectives of the manifesto:

1. Each pupil leaves school with sufficient reading level. Focus on groups that remain the hardest behind: boys, students in VMBO and MBO, young people with a migration background.

2. All teachers and teaching assistants are sufficiently equipped to provide good and motivating reading education; pedagogical staff know how to work on reading promotion. Reading skills and reading pleasure are central to this.

3. The art of reading is a concern for everyone and requires structural attention from the Cabinet, the Chamber, regional and local authorities, employers, trade unions and all people who have responsibilities for others.

See for the complete manifesto with all ambitions and goals: www.tijdvooreenleesoffensief.nl.