At an event at the European Parliament (EP) on 22 January, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands said that we should strive for a hundred percent literate Europe.
Stanislava Gaydazhieva, New Europe, 22.01.2013 The Princess, who is chair of the European Union (EU) high level group of experts on literacy, took part in an event jointly organised by the liaison office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Brussels and the Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake. The idea of the happening was to bring together experts in the field of literacy and to raise discussion on the ways of tackling low literacy levels in Europe. According to the latest report of the high level group released in September last year, one in five Europeans faced difficulties to read and write. According to Princess Laurentien, who was designated also UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development in 2009, illiteracy was a problem not only for people belonging to marginalized groups of society.
For this reason and because 'illiteracy means vulnerability which Europe can not afford', investment in literacy, especially in times of austerity, was needed.The Princess was strongly supported by Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth who said that literacy was a crucial element of Europe's growth strategy as well. However, the Commissioner emphasised that no matter the fact that the EU has set a benchmark to reduce the share of low achievers in literacy to less than 15% by 2020, this target was so far reached only by three member states. Vassiliou, who has set up the high level group in 2011, stressed that there was political will, but making concrete progress would require 'real and sustainable commitment from all relevant players', as much as it would require 'developing wider awareness of the challenge posed by literacy.' Yet, somehow strikingly awakening were the words of Princess Laurentien who said that literacy was most of all about people. MEP Schaake, on the other hand, concluded by saying that literacy was a 'shared responsibility for the EU and for the EU in the world'.