The ELINET Association is the follow-up of the ELINET network project which was established in February 2014 and received a 3 million Euro grant from the European Commission to complete an ambitious two-year work programme. The aims of this project were to develop evidence-based tools for all actors in the diverse fields of literacy locally, regionally, nationally and transnationally, to support existing and initiate new activities in reducing the numbers of poor readers and improving literacy policies in all EU member countries.
The ELINET project was made up of 80 partner organizations from 28 countries (of which 24 are EU Member States). Those partners comprised existing literacy networks and national literacy associations, education ministries and national agencies, international organizations (like UNESCO), foundations and NGO´s, universities, research centres and teacher training institutions, volunteer organizations and other stakeholder groups working in the field of literacy. The network was coordinated by the University of Cologne.
After the funding period of the ELINET project ended (in 2016) some members of the former project decided to take on the ELINET work in the context of an association. The ”European Literacy Policy Network Association (ELINET Association) e.V.” was planned during the ELINET Symposium 2017 in Madrid and founded during the ELINET Symposium 2018 in Cologne. The ELINET Association was legally registered under German Law in November 2018 in Cologne.
Background: The European Literacy Policy Challenge
In Europe, 1 in 5 children, adolescents and adults lack basic literacy and this increases their risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. It also limits their opportunities for cultural and civic participation, lifelong learning and personal growth. This situation is dramatic because – on the European average – there is no improvement in the reading performance of children and adolescents in the last 15 years, as the results of PIRLS and PISA demonstrate.
The EU reacted to this challenge with the establishment of the High Level Group of Experts on Literacy whose report appeared in 2012, and the funding of a European network ELINET (2014-2016). Based on the work of the High Level Group, ELINET has a focus on three domains:
- Creating a more literate environment
- Improving the quality of teaching
- Increasing participation, inclusion and equity.
The causes for low literacy levels are multiple and complex – they can start in early childhood, continue through school and persist throughout life due to lack of strategic and financial support for lifelong learning. Systemic change is required, where policymakers put in place, and resource, long-term literacy strategies working with professionals, parents, business and communities to help close the social and educational achievement gaps. This means engaging policymakers in health, culture, skills and business, as well as education, to reach out to engage literacy learners of all ages and celebrate their achievements at all levels.
The need to address low literacy levels through effective policy development is urgent, including the support for refugee and migrant populations across Europe.
A lifelong and life-wide approach to literacy policy will help to build cohesive communities and strong economies across Europe. Through the sharing of evidence and good literacy teaching and learning practices, we believe that children, young people and adults can all develop strong literacy skills, competencies and knowledge that enable them to take their rightful place in society.