European countries need to step up efforts to boost reading skills, study says

One in five 15 year olds and many adults in Europe cannot read properly.

A new study published by the European Commission today shows what countries are doing to improve reading literacy – and where they are falling short.

The study, which covers 31 countries (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey), reveals that while most have made progress in developing literacy policies, they often lack focus on the groups most at risk, such as boys, children from disadvantaged households and migrant children.

EU Education Ministers have set a target to reduce the share of poor readers from 20% to less than 15% by 2020. Only Belgium (Flemish Community), Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Poland have already achieved this target.

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: “It is a totally unacceptable that so many young people still lack basic reading and writing skills in Europe. This puts them at risk of social exclusion, makes it harder for them to find a job and reduces their quality of life. We’ve seen some progress in the past decade, but not enough. Literacy is the basis of all learning – that is why I recently launched a literacy campaign aimed at all ages and especially those from deprived backgrounds such as Roma children.”

The study can be found on: