RWF aims to create a movement involving every layer of society to make sure nobody has difficulty reading and writing. Some of the activities to raise awareness of the issue, as well as to prevent low literacy skills, are highlighted below.
1. The campaign ‘Healthier through Literacy’ aims to make the 64,000 healthcare professionals in the Netherlands aware of their pivotal role in recognising people with literacy difficulties and to help them to refer these people to a reading and writing course.
2. Arjen Robben, captain of the Dutch national football team, collaborated in a project involving three thousand Dutch school children. Together, they wrote three bestselling books in an exciting and educative program.
3. Every year around September 8th (International Literacy Day as proclaimed by UNESCO in 1966) the Literacy Week takes place. In this week, RWF encourages organisations and individuals to draw attention to the importance of literacy. In 2014, no less than 3,395 activities were organised and media attention reached hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens.
4. In September 2013 and 2014, as many as 350,000 people visited the Efteling, one of Europe’s leading fairy-tale theme parks, located in the Netherlands. RWF organised a language themed month with language games, free books for visitors and celebrities reading to children.
5. A primetime television series was made, starring people formerly struggling with reading and writing. For weeks, people viewers saw the effects of the lack of reading and writing skills on these people’s lives.
Preventing the problem
1. As a member of the Reading Coalition, RWF focuses on reading as an essential part of family life by inspiring fathers, through their employers, to read more to their children. In 2014 the campaign ‘Fathers for Reading’ started, inspired by a German sister organisation.
2. Maternity care employees were trained to incorporate literacy and the importance of reading to children in their programmes.
3. Using ‘Reading and writing with Dolfje Weerwolfje’, based on a popular children’s book character, we provide a fun way for primary school teachers to spend more time on reading and writing in the classroom.
4. In September 2014, RWF broke the record for simultaneously reading to children. 55,000 children between 2 and 6 years old across the country were read a story about the popular characters Woezel and Pip.
5. The special course ‘Language at Home’ focuses on parents with children between 2 and 12 years old. During the course, the parents work on their own literacy skills, but also learn about children’s language development. As a result they are able to get more involved with their children’s learning process and prevent literacy difficulties among their children.
Building on the solid basis of awareness of the problem and devoted partners sharing the vision of a fully literate society, RWF took a new step in its approach by offering concrete solutions for people with literacy difficulties in the Language for Life programme.