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'Worryingly' low literacy levels among youths

Effective ways of improving literacy levels among Maltese students formed the focal discussion point of a seminar organised this morning in the wake of a recently-published EU report underlining disconcertingly low literacy levels among European youths.

According to the EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy report published in September, one in five European 15-year-olds have poor reading and writing skills.

A quarter of 15-year-olds claim that reading is a waste of time, while 34% do not read for pleasure.

Organised jointly by the Directorate for Quality and Standards Education (DQSE) and the Malta Union of Teachers, the seminar focused on determining effective and efficient ways of improving literacy attainment and of decreasing the percentage of low achievers.

According to DQSE literacy education officer Christine Firman, co-operative approaches are the way forward.

"Businesses, celebrities, NGOs, youth workers and the media can all contribute in an influential way in raising literacy levels.

"We need to create a culture of reading, to expose our children to the joy of reading.

"I also believe that teachers should also have excellent in-depth knowledge of reading and of literacy. This would allow the teacher more autonomy to determine the kind of material and methods used in class."

Education minister Dolores Cristina said that education does not only take place in the classroom but also in the workplace, organisations and most importantly, in the family.

"We therefore need to address families' and adults' needs. This is why the Foundation for Educational Services is organising a number of programmes to guide adults in helping their children."

The seminar also included a keynote speech by Professor Greg Brooks.

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