EURead, a coalition of the continent’s most influential organisations committed to reading and literacy, called on Europe’s leaders to recognise the ability to read as a fundamental human right and as essential to the protection of democracy. 

The six-point Statement on Reading and Literacy draws on extensive evidence which shows the widespread impact of being able to read and reading regularly on the ability of individual citizen’s to fulfil their potential, participate in society and identify fake news. The statement also calls for further investment in book gifting programmes for families with young children, school and public libraries and in reading promotion as being essential for the development of critically literate citizens.

The statement was announced at the EURead Annual General Meeting in Athens where 21 organisations from over 15 countries participated from across the continent which was followed by an open forum on “Literacy and Democracy in the Era of Technology and Information: Facts, Challenges, Strategies,” organized in light of the EU elections. Guest speakers at the AGM and forum included Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD, Andrew Kay, CEO of World Literacy Foundation, Prof. Adriaan van der Weel of Leiden University, Prof. Venetia Apostolidou of Aristotle University, Thessaloniki and Marc Lambert CEO of Scottish Book Trust.

In launching the Statement on Reading and Literacy, Dr Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EU Read, said:

“The contribution of reading to the defence of democracy and the functioning of society in so many different ways is grossly underestimated. Ensuring that the citizens of Europe can not only read, but can read critically and love reading is fundamental to sustaining European values for future generations. Governments at regional, national and pan-European level must take action but so must a wide range of other social actors. Reading is not just an issue for ministries of education and culture but for everyone who cares about the future of Europe. We must come together to protect our way of life.”   

We, the EURead members, call on all politicians at both the national and EU levels to support reading and literacy by rethinking their importance for the well-being of all citizens and the preservation of our vibrant and robust democratic societies.

EURead Statement on Reading and Literacy

We, the member organisations of EURead representing 34 state, NGO and publishing bodies from 23 countries across the continent call on European leaders at regional, national and supranational level to recognise the foundational role that reading plays in the development of individual citizens, in the operation of a thriving economy and in helping to ensure the functioning of modern democracies.

We are specifically calling for recognition of and action on the following principles.

  1. The ability to read and to read critically is essential to personal development and a fundamental human right.

It is widely evidenced that reading regularly for pleasure improves mental health and well-being, correlates with achievement across the curriculum, improves social mobility and enables participation in society. PISA defines reading as “understanding, using, reflecting on, and engaging with written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, develop one’s knowledge and potential, and participate in society.” Because of its widespread impact on individuals’ lives, learning to read and to love reading is a fundamental right.

2. The ability to read underpins the functioning of our society in many dimensions and, as such, is everyone’s concern.

Having citizens who can read to the best of their ability can improve economic performance, enable better health outcomes, enhance social mobility and improve social cohesion. Making sure that the citizens of Europe are regular readers is a matter of concern for a wide variety of state and non-state actors outside the confines of the education and culture sectors. This includes organisations active in the business and commercial world, healthcare and regional development sectors amongst others.

3. Having citizens who can read critically is essential if we are to protect our democracies.

In an era of disinformation, the ability to interpret information and assess the credibility of statements is essential to the functioning of modern democracies. The promotion of high levels of critical literacy should be a priority for governments and for EU members should form part of the Defence of Democracy package.

4. Reading needs to be part of family life from a child’s earliest days and governments should further invest in Early Years book gifting programmes.

There is widespread scientific evidence of the importance of the first 1000 days for a child’s development and further evidence of the critical role that reading with young children can play in language acquisition and emotional attachment with their parent or carer. We know that children who are read to when young are more likely to go on to read themselves later. We believe that no child should miss out on the opportunity this presents and that government should further invest in well-evidenced book gifting programmes. Book gifting programmes should form part of the European Child Guarantee.

5. Access to a wide range of books, for example through kindergartens, school libraries and through libraries in the community, staffed by skilled librarians, is essential to fostering a love of reading and needs financial support.

Every citizen of a European country from birth onwards would benefit from access to diverse reading materials of all kinds and in different formats as this helps the acquisition and maintenance of regular reading habits. Having school and community libraries, staffed by information professionals who can help people discover books they will love, is a critical part of our reading infrastructure.

6. Reading promotion by a wide range of players needs to be supported. 

People need encouragement to read, and this is particularly true for those who have the most to gain from reading regularly. Reading promotion programmes which draw on the expertise of the state and NGOs as well as the intellectual capital of authors, illustrators, publishers and booksellers require sustained investment over time in order to effect changes in behaviour. Whilst these actors may lead on promotional activity, it is the responsibility of every element of society to signal that reading is something which is highly valued.

EURead Statement on Reading and Literacy is available as pdf in different languages:

Open Forum “Literacy and Democracy in the Era of Technology and Information: facts, challenges, strategies”

In our modern era, we face daunting challenges: misinformation runs rampant across Europe and beyond, significantly impacting our national interests. While social media saturates our lives, particularly captivating our youth, literacy rates decline. Additionally, the rise of Artificial Intelligence raises profound concerns, especially in education and the arts. Global crises dominate our attention, shaping public discourse.

As we confront these obstacles, safeguarding democratic principles is paramount. What strategic investments must society make to foster economic growth, achieve sustainable development goals, and safeguard cultural heritage? Amidst these deliberations, how does literacy contribute to shaping our collective future?

In the light of the 2024 European Parliament elections it is even more important to tackle these issue. Therefore, EURead, Diavazontas Megalono and Goethe-Institut Athen are inviting you to an open forum, which will be held on the 4th of June, 2024, at the premises of Goethe-Institut Athen (14-16 Omirou str., Athens, Greece).

Speakers and topics

‘To understand the full significance of reading, it is not enough to approach it functionally and ask, ‘What do we do with reading?’ We must also ask the reverse question, ‘What does reading do to us?’ For reading and writing are more than just functional skills: they are intellectual achievements that change the very way our brains are able to think’. Prof. Adriaan van der Weel will address these questions in his speech, ‘Reading to Think: The Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher-Level Reading,’ beginning a discussion on how we can safeguard this achievement and support our vulnerable democracies.

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou will share insights based on research and experience, which show that many children who used to read books systematically fail to progress to the next level of reading more complex texts, whether informational or literary, once they leave children’s books behind. In her presentation, ‘The Critical Transition from Childhood to Adolescence for the Development of Higher-Level Reading Competencies: Findings and Suggestions,’ she will explore the causes related to the role of education, the media, and teenage literature.

Though it is self-evident that literacy, from basic decoding to the higher order skills of critical literacy, is essential to modern participatory democracy, yet illiteracy rates across Europe and the British Isles have remained roughly the same at around twenty percent of the population. In this sense, tracking variations in PISA results, and obsessing, as politicians and the media do, over national league tables, is to pay attention to an illusion, because there is a persistent underlying correlation between poverty rates, rates of illiteracy, and poor educational attainment. Marc Lambert will argue that this makes the task of reading promoters complex, as we must address not a single, easily comprehensible issue, but rather the intersection of socio-economics, education, culture, and productivity.

If you believe in the importance of reading and literacy in shaping robust democracies and are seeking solutions and constructive dialogue among different key stakeholders, you are most welcome to join us.

The forum will be moderated by Prof. Maria Stratigaki.

Free entrance | Simultaneous English-Greek interpretation provided

About the speakers and the moderator

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou

Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education

School of Primary Education, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki

Director of the Centre for Reading and Writing in School and Society  

Venetia Apostolidou is a Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education at the School of Primary Education of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. She is the Director of the Centre of Reading and Writing in School and Society. Her research interests focus on the fields of the history of Modern Greek criticism, post-war prose and literary education. Her latest book Literature at the University. The construction of Modern Greek Philology (1942-1982), Polis publications 2022, was awarded the Ourani prize of the Academy of Athens.

Prof. Adriaan van der Weel

Emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies

University of Leiden

The Netherlands

Adriaan van der Weel is emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies, University of Leiden, the Netherlands. His research focuses on the screen revolution in textual communication and reading. As vice-chair of the COST Action ‘E-READ’, about the future of reading in the digital age, Van der Weel was co-author of the ‘Stavanger Declaration Concerning the Future of Reading’ (2019) and the ‘Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher Level Reading’ (2023). His latest book, co-authored with Ruud Hisgen, is entitled The reading human: How the book defines our existence (2022; in Dutch).

Marc Lambert


Scottish Book Trust

United Kingdom

Marc Lambert graduated from Edinburgh University in 1986 with an MA Hons degree in History. He has worked for Waterstone and Co. as a main fiction buyer, and for Penguin Books in Italy and the UK. After four years of writing about and interpreting contemporary art at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, he joined The Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2000, becoming Assistant Director. In 2002 he was appointed CEO of Scottish Book Trust. Since then he has grown the Trust from a small organisation of three people into a national charity with 70+ staff, winning 10 Arts & Business and Business in the Community awards. A Trustee of Literature Alliance Scotland and the Netherbow Trust he chaired the Scottish Government English Excellence Group, and was a member of the Scottish Government’s Standing Literacy Commission. He has written widely both on the visual arts, and on book and literacy related subjects. 


Prof. Maria Stratigaki 

Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University

Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens 

Maria Stratigaki is Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens since 1st January 2024. She has served at the same position from 2014 to 2019. She is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University. She served as General Secretary for Gender Equality (2009-2012) and worked at the European Commission (1991-1999). Her research interests are gender equality policies, gender-based violence and gender in migration She was scientific coordinator of EU funded FP7 research projects on Gender and Gender Equality Policies. She has published in Social Politics, the European Journal of Women’s Studies and Femina Politica. She is the author of the books: The Gender of Social Policy (2007) and Gender Equality Policies: UN, EU, Greece (2021). She is a founding member of the first European Feminist Think Tank Gender 5+. 

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Annual General Meeting 2024: Promoting literacy in a changing world

Modern society is facing big challenges: all over Europe (and beyond), people are worried about misinformation and the impact it has on nations.

Social media is by now ever-present in our daily lives, and the group of (even young) children using them keeps growing. Meanwhile, their reading skills decline. The development of Artificial Intelligence is reaching a momentum that is being followed closely (and with fear?) in the fields of education and the creative sector. World crises dominate mainstream media.

In this context, it seems even more essential for reading promoters to fight illiteracy and to promote reading skills in general. We see a clear correlation between declining reading skills in society and the aforementioned problems. But how do we get that message across to parents, teachers, and our financial partners and promoters? How can we raise awareness of these issues at local, national, and European levels? What is our responsibility, and what is our response?

The AGM 2024 will be held on the 3rd and 4th of June, 2024, in Athens (Greece).

Location: Premises of Goethe-Institut Athens, 14-16 Omirou str., Athens, Greece.


3rd June, 2024

12.30 – 13.00 Registration

13.00 – 13.20 Welcome notes by the special guests Bettina Wenzel – Goethe-Institut Athen, Ava Chalkiadaki – Diavazontas Megalono, Katarina Barley – vice-president of the European Parliament (video) and Andrew Kay – CEO World Literacy Foundation (video).

13.20 – 13.30 Official opening by Dr. Jörg F. Maas, Chair of EURead | Stiftung Lesen

13.30 – 14.25 Strategic Vision and EURead Statement on Reading and Literacy. Discussion for further actions on strategy and advocacy

14.25 – 15.05 Welcome new members from Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria

15.05 – 15.35 Reading promotion in Greece: the deficits of public reading policies and the leading role of the civil society (Speaker: Ava Chalkiadaki, Diavazontas Megalono (Greece)

15.35 – 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 – 16.40 Reading To Change Our Minds: Keynote speaker Prof. Adriaan van der Weel, Leiden University, The Netherlands

16.40 – 17.50 Let’s Talk About… Early Literacy

  • Update from the Global Network for Early Years Bookgifting (Peter Jenkins, Global Network Manager | BookTrust United Kingdom)
  • Bookgifting Toolkit: Process and Motivation (Emmi Jäkkö, Lukukeskus – The Finnish Reading Center – Finland)
  • Pilot reading promotion intervention in Primary Healthcare in Greece. First observations (Evanthia Sakellari, Diavazontas Megalono – Greece)
  • BookStart Spain: reading promotion, culture and more (Ana Molina, Asociación Artística-Sociocultural Mestiza – Spain)
  • Q&A session Global Network topics
  • The Impact of Networking: Can EURead learn from Global Network and vice versa? How can we be more impactful? Discussion, moderated by Daan Beeke – Network Manager EURead | Stichting Lezen

17.50 – 18.00 Reflections on Day 1

20.00 – 22.00 Official Dinner

Speech by Eleni Geroulanou – writer, educator, founder of Library4all and the Hellenic Children’s Museum in Athens, member of the Greek section of IBBY and an honorary member of Diavazontas Megalono


4h June, 2024

8.30 – 09.00 Coffee

9.00 – 09.30 Warm-up with Evi Andrianou

9.30 – 12.30 General Assembly – Members Only! Finances, Legal Matters, Reports from the EURead Teams etc.

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch (Street Food Challenge)

13.30 – 14.25 Let’s Talk About… New Media

  • Fakeless – Exhibition on media literacy – Nikoletta Stathopoulou, Head of Information & Library, Goethe-Institut Athen (Greece)
  • Innovative Approaches to Digital Reading in Education – Sonja Hoge, Managing Director of Onilo, Germany
  • Q&A New Media

14.25 – 14.35 Coffee Break

14.35 – 15.35 Let’s Talk About… Reading Promotion and Politics

  • Good Practices in the field of reading promotion and politics

15.35 – 15.45 Reflections on the AGM 2024


18.00 – 20.30 Open Forum “Literacy and democracy in the era of technology and information: facts, challenges, strategies”

PISA in Bologna: how to fight low reading skills – A Panel Discussion during BCBF 2024

For the 61st time, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2024 will attract publishers, authors, illustrators, and book lovers from all over the world. While the book fair is dedicated to the development of a vital industry, most professionals in the book industry are aware of the declining reading skills of both children and adults.

PISA results provide scientific proof of this downward trend, sometimes referred to as the reading crisis. While Bologna is filled with great new books each year, the question remains: what if no one reads them? What if books become a relic of the past in the future?

From 9:30 to 10:20 on April 9, 2024, during a panel discussion in the Authors’ Café (Hall 30, Bologna Fiere), reading promoters from both inside and outside the publishing industry will shed light on this question.

Moderated by Daan Beeke (Stichting Lezen / EURead network manager), the panelists will discuss whether reading promotion could be a solution and how publishers can play a role in this process.

“Bologna Children’s Book Fair gives us a great opportunity to spotlight reading promotion. To ensure all children read and to combat illiteracy, we must address this issue here and now, seeking comprehensive solutions and stable partnerships across all sectors,” says Mr. Beeke.

During the panel discussion, Elaina Ryan (Children’s Books Ireland), Lovisa Fhagher Logothetis (Bonnier Family Foundation, Sweden), and Anna Zdrojewska-Zywiecka (Mamania/Relacja sp. z o.o. Publishing Group, Poland) will shed light on this question. Attendees will also learn more about what lies at the core of reading promotion.

If you are interested in this topic and are attending the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2024, join us for a cup of coffee and a lively discussion on the future of reading and books!

All visual materials for the event are created by Valerie Weilheim.

About the panelists:

Elaina Ryan

Elaina grew up in Wexford and Waterford. She holds a BA in Languages and Cultural Studies from University of Limerick and an MLitt in Publishing from University of Stirling. She has a background in children’s book publishing and is co-Artistic Director, with Niamh Sharkey, of Towers and Tales Children’s Book Festival in Lismore, County Waterford. Elaina has led the team in Children’s Books Ireland since 2013.

Lovisa Fhager Logothetis

At the Bonnier Family Foundation Lovisa Fhager Logothetis leads the work with several reading promotion methods, one that aims to get young people to read aloud to younger children during the first week of the summer holidays. Lovisa is an expert in children’s rights. She holds a master’s in political science and has a background in organizations Amnesty International and Unicef and is part of several different expert networks for children’s rights. She previously led a civil society organization that worked on equality issues that distributed over a million books to Swedish children and youths for free.

Anna Zdrojewska-Zywiecka

Anna studied Cultural Studies at the University of Warsaw and the University of Amsterdam. She is also an MBA graduate of the SGH Warsaw School of Economics. In 2010 she founded Mamania publishing house that specializes in parenting and children’s books. Anna and her company are among the founders of the Universal Reading Foundation. The foundation is supporting children’s development and supporting adults in their parenthood, showing the great importance of reading in both those areas.

Daan Beeke

Daan Beeke studied Dutch Literature at Utrecht University and started his career as high school teacher of Dutch Literature and Language. Since 2008 he works for the Dutch Reading Foundation (Stichting Lezen) as a domain specialist, working on high school projects and programs. He is also involved in the EURead network and in the Global Network for Early Years Bookgifting, as a network manager. 

Graphic design:

Valerie Weilheim

Valerie holds a degree in Literature from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (Magna Cum Laude, 2019). She works as an editor, illustrator and reading promoter. In Venezuela she has been a workshop leader for Rana Encantada since 2010, is part of the evaluation committee for children’s and young adult books of Banco del Libro and is the co-founder of the fanzine publisher Perro Amorfo (2017). She also collaborates with the digital magazine Pez Linterna and the Asociación Artística-Sociocultural Mestiza (San Sebastian).

Portfolio: Instagram:

Empowering European Literacy: Insights from the Second Day of European Authors Conference

The 2024 Day of European Authors, initiated by the European Commission, took place on March 25, 2024. Teachers, librarians, students and book lovers from across Europe came together to celebrate the crucial role of writers, poets, translators, and illustrators in shaping the cultural diversity and richness of European literature.

Screenshot from the website of the European Commission – Day of European Authors

Among the various activities, the European Commission organised a conference in Leuven, Belgium, bringing together key stakeholders in culture, education, reading, and literacy to discuss potential solutions to the declining reading skills among European citizens.

The conference commenced with opening remarks by Ms Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, who said that “1 in 4 fifteen-year-olds don’t have the appropriate reading skills in the European Union”.

During the first panel, moderated by Elaina Ryan (CEO Children’s Books Ireland), panelists Dr. Dirk Hastedt (Executive Director, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievements (IEA) and Dr. Tiziana Mascia (Adjunct Professor of Children’s Literature at the University of Urbino and Representative of the European Literacy Policy Network (ELINET) highlighted issues related to declining reading abilities based on assessment surveys like PIRLS and PISA, as well as the lack of motivation for reading among children.

“We talk about a lost generation to COVID but what about the lost generation from not reading?”, asked Dr. Hastedt.

Pledging for a common understanding and definition of what reading is, Valentina Stoeva (Chairperson of Reading Foundation Bulgaria and representative of EURead network) discussed the work of reading and literacy promoters. She underscored the critical role of families, kindergarten teachers, and librarians in both public and school libraries. Stoeva emphasized the need for support, based on research and carefully selected, high-quality books, to effect change in Europe’s reading landscape.

“Reading is a basic human right, and although it is not guaranteed by nature that individuals will be able to learn to read, we as a society must work on supporting everyone to become a reader, if we want to preserve the core democratic values and ensure that no one is left behind.” – said Valentina Stoeva.

The second panel, moderated by Daan Beeke (Domain Specialist at Stichting Lezen and Network Manager at EURead), delved into the importance of families, librarians, and reading promoters in shaping children’s interests from an early age, thereby preparing them for school and life. Presentations included the Flemish Reading Plan by Noa Heyndrickx (Literatuur Vlaanderen, Flanders, Belgium) and insights from Simon Bequoye (Iedereen Leest, Flanders, Belgium) on the significance of initiatives like BookStart and the role of libraries in providing access to books for families.

Benjamin Kesteloot (Director, Médiathèque départementale du Pas-de-Calais, France) and Laura Guindal Martínez (Deputy Director General for Coordination of Libraries at the Ministry of Culture, Spain) shared some insights of the projects they are developing in the field of reading. Special focus in this panel was put on Ukraine, with the keynote and thought provoking speech on the importance of “books as shelters for the mind” by Olena Odynoka (Deputy Director for International Cooperation, The Ukrainian Book Institute).

The third panel featured insights from three young individuals who shared their perspectives on reading and the curriculum.They highlighted the importance of encounters with authors and shared their personal experiences as avid readers, which often differ from the interests of their peers.

The second day of the conference saw fruitful discussions on various topics including the book sector, literary pedagogy, and promoting reading in the digital age. Key messages emerged, emphasizing:

  • The importance of early reading and shared reading for pleasure among parents and children, including the Early Years Bookgifting programmes.
  • The crucial role of reading promoters in supporting families, healthcare service employees, and educators with advice and books.
  • The significance of libraries, both public and school, and the need for support from national and local governments to ensure access to new books and knowledgeable librarians.
  • Closing the gender gap in reading by publishing stories that appeal to both boys and girls.

Looking ahead to the 2024 European Parliament elections, the conference participants expressed optimism about the positive impact of the event on the future of the European Union and Europe as a whole.

EURead members, participating in the Conference:

EURead members are participating in the conference for the second Day of European Authors

In the context of the second edition of the Day of European Authors (25th of March 2024) the European Commission organises a conference with the objective to foster collaboration between the book and the education sectors to tackle declining reading skills and habits among young people.

Elaina Ryan (Children’s Books Ireland), Daan Beeke (Stichting Lezen) and Valentina Stoeva (Children’s Books Foundation / Reading Foundation Bulgaria) will participate in the main panels of the conference, representing the EURead network and shedding light on the crucial role of reading promoters in tackling illiteracy.

The event will be opened by Iliana Ivanova – European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Matthias De Moor ‐ General Representative of Flanders to the European Union.

More about the Conference and the Day of European Authors:

What happened in 2023? The EURead network’s review

A lot has happened for EURead in 2023.

We welcomed new members Libranda (Spain), Kitabistan (Azerbaijan), the Universal Reading Foundation (Poland) and the Reading Foundation (Bulgaria) and grew to 35 member organisations from 23 countries.  You can read about their good work at our newly launched website – the launch of it was another highlight of 2023. 

A big success was our Annual General Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria. Our AGM is still at the core of our activities as a network, helping our members to learn from each other and be inspired. New to this AGM was a press conference, which served the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of reading in Bulgaria. 

But we did not only meet at our own main event: some EURead members are active contributors to the regularly held online meetings of the Global Network for Early Years Bookgifting. Please visit their website to learn more about those online meetings. 

Our members also participated in important events across Europe: EURead members organised, moderated and/or participated in presentations and panel discussions at events like the World Literacy Summit, the Bologna Bookfair, the Day of European Authors conference, the Literacy Conference in Riga and the Frankfurter Buchmesse

EURead also signed the Ljubljana Manifesto, and was represented at the launch in Ljubljana. 

And yet we should not only look back at what EURead did as a network, but what all EURead members did and are doing in their own countries. Please stay tuned and we will keep you updated about their and our own activities.

Because 2023 made it very clear that reading promotion is essential for healthy societies, and we need to keep up the good work, both at a national and at a European level. 

PISA 2022: a Call for Action by EURead

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 results were announced on December 5th 2023. Nearly 700,000 15-year-old students in 81 countries were tested on mathematics, reading and science. The 8th edition, with a focus on maths, was also the first to collect data on student performance, well-being and equity before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article we summarize the results in reading, and EURead Chair Dr. Joerg Maas responds with a call for action.

Surprisingly so or not, on average, the PISA 2022 assessment saw an unprecedented drop in performance across the OECD. Compared to 2018, mean performance fell by 10 score points in reading. According to the insights, the decline in students’ performance can only partially be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, with falling scores in reading, science, and maths already apparent prior to 2018.

The survey also revealed the fast-changing impact of technology on children’s educational performance. While moderate use of digital devices in school was associated with higher performance, the researchers note that this depends on the technology being used to support rather than distract from learning. 

On average across OECD countries, students who spent up to one hour a day on digital devices for leisure scored 49 points higher in maths than students who spent between five and seven hours per day, after taking into account students’ and schools’ socio-economic profile. 45% of students reported feeling nervous or anxious if their phones were not near them, on average across OECD countries. 

The state of reading proficiency is alarming

According to the PISA 2022 Results (Volume I): The State of Learning and Equity in Education*, reading proficiency is defined as follows: “Reading literacy is understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society” (OECD, 2019[22]).

The proficiency of 15-year-old students in extracting and processing written information, to understand it and upgrade their previous knowledge, and to assess the truthfulness of the given text by using different kinds of media, are considered crucial for the 21stcentury. Unfortunately, the results show a significant decline in almost all of the participating countries. 

“The latest PISA report shows a devastating situation in most of the OECD countries: reading competence levels dropped once again in almost all countries participating in the study. Despite the fact that some countries performed better than most of the others, e.g. Ireland, Finland and Estonia, the key message is that all countries have to take additional measures to increase the reading competence level. Reading is the basis for every child and student to learn, to perform in school and to become a vital part of society – regardless of the economic or educational level of their parents.” – says Dr. Joerg F. Maas, CEO of the German Reading Foundation and Chair of EURead.

Scientific evidence indicates that, irrespective of the socio-economic background of families, reading from a parent to a child can benefit children and add up to their academic success later in life. This process does not start in school, but is closely linked to the reading promotion and the proper support for families, healthcare specialists, kindergarten teachers, schoolteachers, librarians, etc. 

“The PISA study is once again a wake-up call for political decision makers in every European and OECD-country and reiterates the necessity for more and better reading promotion and literacy programs in each of our countries and in Europe as a whole. 

We as EURead, the European network of organisations focusing on reading promotion and literacy, encourage the European Commission to take the PISA study seriously and to start a European program to increase reading competence of every child in Europe.” – states Dr. Joerg F. Maas

More about the PISA 2022 results:

* OECD (2023), PISA 2022 Results (Volume I): The State of Learning and Equity in Education, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris,