The Reading & Writing Foundation (in Dutch: Stichting Lezen & Schrijven) is an initiative of H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands. The foundation was launched on May 27, 2004.
The objective of the foundation is to devote attention to the 1.1 million Dutch citizens who are unable to participate fully within society due to literacy related problems. Therewith, the foundation inspires and gets inspired by initiatives abroad. We aim to encourage debate about this problem and to connect all stakeholders with a role to prevent and reduce illiteracy.
The vision of the Reading & Writing Foundation is that literacy is a basic requirement for a healthy and sustainable society. Each individual has the right to acquire good literacy skills, in order to increase participation within society.
The story of Lisa
The Reading & Writing Foundation is convinced that everyone in society shares the responsibility in preventing and reducing low literacy. When everyone feels truly and structurally responsible and acts accordingly, illiteracy will become a permanent and structural topic on social, political, and socioeconomic agendas.
Illustrative for this is the animation of The story of Lisa. In this short video, the vicious circle of illiteracy is portrayed, showing the opportunities for various societal stakeholders to act.
In order to help illiterate adults upgrading their literacy skills, the Reading & Writing Foundation intensively cooperates with certified volunteers and professional teachers in an innovative pilot called ‘Language for Life’. We therewith teach illiterate adults in a close-to-home setting, based on knowledge and international success stories from Ireland (Learning for Life) and the United Kingdom (Skills for Life).
Get Europe Reading
In a European context, the foundation’s chair Princess Laurentien chaired the EU High Level Expert Group on Literacy, publishing its final report in September 2012.
Following the launch of the report and the presentation in the European Parliament in the beginning of 2013, the Reading & Writing Foundation and the English NGO Beanstalk have analysed and discussed ways to follow-up the High Level Group’s conclusions. Especially Beanstalk’s Get London Reading campaign has attracted the attention as one of the successful exemplary projects in the report. The campaign successfully shows the progress to be made with children who struggle with their reading and writing when various societal actors cooperate with a committed media partner.
The Reading & Writing Foundation and Beanstalk now seek to work in partnership across Europe to help tackle the problem of illiteracy through a series of campaigns, as explained in this concept note. We aim to work to inspire players in all European nations to get behind the issue and work together to Get Europe Reading.
100 million readers
Besides chairing the Reading & Writing Foundation, Princess Laurentien is UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development. In an international context, as the world progresses towards universal access to schooling, attention is focusing more and more towards learning and skills, inside and outside the school. While many factors affect how much children and adults learn, the quantity, quality, accessibility, and affordability of reading materials are key amongst those factors. Yet reading materials are lacking, or they are of low quality in many countries, both in digital and in printed form, and for both supply and demand reasons. Reading materials for children to improve their reading skills in the foundation years and in their first languages are in particular shortage.
Notably the Global Partnership for Education and the Reading & Writing Foundation are now seeking suitable partners to kickstart the initiative 100 Million Readers. When taking off, the initiative should address the issues of both supply and demand as well as applying solutions in both digital and printed form. All to make sure that reading materials are used and liked by children worldwide.
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