Literacy in the 21st Century: International Symposium report

Image: Patricia Prudente /

In July 2018, under the coordination of the University of Cologne, the European Literacy Policy Network (ELINET) brought together 80 partners from 28 European countries involved in literacy projects and research, including existing literacy networks, associations and organisations (such as UNESCO), education ministries, foundations, non-governmental organisations, research centres and teacher education institutions.


The two-day international symposium gave fascinating insights into the work of the members through many parallel sessions, under the theme “Literacy in the 21st Century: Participation, Inclusion and Equity”.

The aim of the symposium was to draw attention to the great challenge of the 21st century in securing a basic standard of literacy for all citizens of Europe and to present ways of tackling this challenge. The symposium included numerous workshop sessions for educational policymakers, researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas and experiences on the effective development of European, national and regional literacy programmes.

One of the keynotes was delivered by Janice Richardson on “Literacy, citizenship and digital technology”. It was an interesting and thought-provoking insight into the reality of young people in the age of the Internet and social media. She questioned whether schools are succeeding in their role of empowering children by developing the multi-facetted literacy they need to become creative, active citizens in today’s information and communication-rich world. According to Ms Richardson, assessment programmes indicate that progress is slow, despite the innovative development models being proposed by European and other institutions to bridge the growing social and digital divide.

Ms Richardson is active as an advisor in many contexts and one of the organisations she is involved in is Insight2act, a group of experts working together to educate and empower children online and to promote and protect their rights.

You can read more about the conference and featured projects on the network website.