As the world marked International Literacy Day - new figures showed many Europeans still lack basic reading and writing skills.
Roughly one in five 15-year-olds, and nearly 75 million adults, cannot read and write to a sufficient standard, research ordered by the EU Commission shows.
Experts behind the study have said the findings should act as a ‘wake up call’ to EU governments trying to cut deficits and boost growth.
Extra teachers, better libraries and high-quality early childhood education were highlighted in the EU Commission’s research to improve Europe’s literacy crisis.
Belgian charity ‘Lire et Ecrire’ (Read and Write), which works to tackle illiteracy, said modern life is making things tougher.
‘‘The demands society puts on people are getting bigger, mainly through technology. We need to be literate to use simple things like bank machines, buying a train ticket and shopping. This increasingly calls for reading and writing in areas where 10 years ago, it was less of a problem in not knowing how to read or write,’‘ said Catherine Stercq from ‘Lire et Ecrire’.
Denis Cornet is from Liege. Until recently he lacked basic reading and writing, but classes at ‘Lire et Ecrire’ have transformed his life.
‘‘Before I pretended. I would try hide the fact and tell people, look, I’ll take the paper and bring it back, things like that when it came to administration. I’d also say I’d forgot my glasses or I’d wear a bandage on my arm. But now, I feel like I’ve been reborn, I feel increasingly like everybody else,’‘ he told euronews.
International Literacy Day 'wake up call' for Europe