London literacy campaign highlights global problem

During the last couple of days, those of us joining thousands of others in London’s busy transport system have been able to pick up a free evening newspaper with a front page campaign to boost literacy levels for children in London’s schools. Apparently, children are not able to read basic sentences and ‘literacy’ is at its lowest…

So, what is literacy? It’s about ensuring children are able to read and understand what they’re reading. Literacy, which entails so many different things, is key to a quality education. In other words, ensuring that children are not just sitting in class, but actually taking something out of going to school!

Unfortunately, children in London are now joining hundreds of thousands of other children around the world who are in exactly the same situation. Not being able to read and understand — what we take to be a basic skill to open up a million doors as well as a children’s imagination and development — is unfortunately one of the greatest setbacks in progress towards a quality education.

What’s happening in schools? How are teachers being supported to ensure children receive a quality education? That should be the next discussion.

If the London literacy campaign teaches us something, it’s the need to highlight that it’s not just enough to ensure children are enrolled in schools. They have to be able to understand what they’re reading, they have to adapt it to the context and reality they live in, and they have to take something out of it. Yet, policies to get everyone into school — and tick the box of universal access — often overshadow the importance of …children actually learning!

Find out more about our work to helping millions of children go to school and get a quality education

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  • Ela Robinson

    The research is there. We know how children learn and it hasn’t been happening in England for years. Local Management of Schools (bums on seats) and league tables meant 4 year olds were and are admitted into inappropriate settings and given inappropriate tasks. From day one our youngest children, especially boys, are set up to fail. Get it right at the beginning and the rest will follow. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel – just make decisions based on children not money or politics.