Recommendation on literacy at the occasion of the publication of the PIAAC results (12/18/2014)

This recommendation at own initiative was prepared by a working group ‘Plan literacy’, discussed at the Nursery and Primary Education Council, the Secondary Education Council, the Lifelong Learning Council and the commission for Diversity and Equal Opportunities, and approved by the General Council.

The international PIAAC programme (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) tested the competences of adults that are key for a full participation in modern society: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. The publication of the PIAAC results for Flanders offered a perfect opportunity to publish a recommendation on literacy. The Council explores how we can learn from the results of PIAAC about the need for a literacy policy covering all educational levels and policy domains.

Literacy will have to be sustainable. It is not only about the language, mathematics and ICT component, but also about the competence for lifelong learning, in a receptive and a productive sense, and for being the motor of one’s own literacy.

In order to enhance the literacy levels in compulsory education, the Vlor is asking for a broad evaluation of the attainment targets in primary and in secondary education. It is the responsibility of those who develop the curricula and of the teachers to guarantee, from a development-oriented point of view, that the pupils acquire literacy skills during their complete school career. Pedagogical and didactical competences of teachers have to be reinforced.

The Council asks for a broader focus of literacy education within adult education, also aiming at the medium-literate, whilst the lowest-literate remain a priority, and at the literacy needs of learners with a migrant background. For the latter, a narrow focus on language learning is not sufficient.

In other policy domains, the Vlor asks more general alertness for low literacy as well as informal learning opportunities for adults that give them the opportunity to enhance their literacy level.

The authorities must not put all the responsibility for the growing literacy demand with the individual; they have to foresee compensation strategies such as dissemination of information in a clear language.