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Launch of an expert group on literacy

Commission launches high-level expert group on literacy chaired by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands

Tuesday 1 February 2011

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Today, 1 February 2011, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, launched an High-Level Expert Group on literacy chaired by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Special Envoy on Literacy for Development for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Excerpts from the press release

One in five 15-year-olds in Europe, as well as many adults, lack basic reading and writing skills, which makes it harder for them to find a job and puts them at risk of social exclusion. To help tackle the issue, the European Commission has set up an independent group of experts to identify ways of raising literacy levels. (...) EU Ministers have set a target of reducing the share of pupils with difficulties in reading, maths and science to fewer than 15% by 2020.


The latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide survey on the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science, show that one in five, or 20%, has low reading skills.


For adults the need for action is just as urgent. Almost 80 million adults in Europe – a third of the workforce - have only low or basic skills, but estimates show that share of jobs requiring high qualifications will increase to 35% by the end of the decade, compared to 29% now. Reading and writing are essential skills, not least as they are the key to further learning.


[The High-Level Group on Literacy] will analyse scientific evidence and evaluate what policies work best. The 11 members of the group are experts on literacy from academia, politics and business.


The High-Level Group will meet regularly over the coming 18 months and will present policy proposals to the Commission in mid-2012. Based on the group’s proposals, Commissioner Vassiliou will present recommendations to Education Ministers in autumn 2012. On this basis, Member States and the Commission will take the issue further as part of their strategic co-operation framework on education and training ("Education and Training 2020").

More information

View the full press release: EU web site or PDF.

View the press conference (video).

Download the list of the Group members (PDF).

See online : The press release

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.

Education and Culture DG