CIDREE Conference, Budapest, November 5, 2015

Improving Literacy Skills across Learning
hosted by the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development HIERD

On 5th November 2015, CIDREE held its annual conference in Budapest. The CIDREE yearbook 2015, Improving Literacy Skills across Learning, edited by HIERD, was launched at the conference. Dr József Kaposi, the Director General of HIERD and Alan Armstrong, President of CIDREE welcomed the participants.

CIDREE Conference Budapest 2015

The first keynote speaker, Dr Christine Garbe, coordinator of the European Literacy Policy Network, presented the aims and achievements of ELINET, while inviting CIDREE members to consider joining the network. The second keynote speaker, Dr Petra Aczél, Director of the Institute for Behavioural Sciences and Communication Theory at the Corvinus University of Budapest, spoke about the challenges of literacy education in the 21st century. The third keynote speaker of the day, Dr Gábor Halász, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Management at the Faculty of Education and Psychology of ELTE, and HIERD scientific advisor, presented Education in Hungary: Challenges and Recent Developments. Following the plenary session, a literacy café took place, conference participants could join in discussions at six different thematic tables.

After the discussions, Alan Armstrong launched the yearbook Improving Literacy Skills across Learning. The ten articles of the volume (edited by HIERD) centre on the topic of literacy, presenting national projects/case studies to improve literacy skills (Slovenia, Scotland), research articles about genres in textbooks (Netherlands) and teachers’ questions in relation to supporting text comprehension (Estonia), curricular changes to develop multiliteracy (Finland, France), tests of literacy (Sweden), the aim of literacy education (Ireland), and examples of European projects to tackle struggling readers (BaCuLit and ISIT). The Hungarian article, written by HIERD colleagues Katalin Varga, László Kojanitz, Ambrus Dobszay and Gergely Wintsche examined how the new generational textbooks improve literacy skills.

The yearbook was presented by editor Viola Bozsik. All countries seemed to acknowledge that literacy is the responsibility of all teachers, throughout secondary education. Awareness also characterised the articles as a common theme: being aware that the language of schooling can be very different from the language of the student. Similarly, reflection is expected from students and teachers and education experts alike. The Hungarian process of developing textbooks heavily relying on the feedback from teachers is also an outstanding example of this attitude, as well as the emphasis on formative assessment. Finally, the acknowledgment of complexity was present in all articles: the notion of multiliteracy has replaced traditional literacy, as the concept summing up what we expect from education. Also, more and more links are established between subjects, for example in the form of interdisciplinary learning modules, as a mapping of our complex world.

In the afternoon, four workshops were held about Cognizing literacy. At the end of the day, a panel of experts answered questions gathered by the rapporteurs from the literacy café and the workshops.

The CIDREE conference ended with a gala dinner, and it was followed by the CIDREE General Assembly the next day. The topic of the 2016 yearbook is raising attainment of low achievers, edited by Scotland, to which Hungary also plans to contribute.

CIDREE Conference Report Budapest 2015 (PDF)

More information, presentations, pictures

CIDREE Yearbook 2015

Improving Literacy Skills Across Learning

Edited by Viola Bozsik

The results of PISA 2009 revealed that 1 in 5 young (15 year old) Europeans struggle with problems of reading comprehension. PIAAC reinforces this troublesome picture: more than 73 million adults in the EU lack basic reading and writing skills, which increases their risk of poverty and social exclusion. The European High Level Group of Experts on Literacy was commissioned by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Youth and Sport in 2011 to oversee the state of literacy in Europe and come up with recommended steps to improve the situation. Their final report of 2012 talks about a „literacy crisis”. The three main directions of the recommended steps are: 1. creating a more literate environment, 2. raising the level of literacy teaching and providing more reading support and 3. increasing participation and inclusion.

Our yearbook aims at presenting how 9 different European countries (Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Slovenia and Sweden) have undertaken steps to address the problem of low literacy levels. The volume addresses the topic of literacy on several levels. Readers can learn about specific classroom practices, textbooks and exam questions on the micro level, specific local programs, curricular changes and case studies on the mezo level, and also national and international policies on the macro level. Once all this is done, and a great amount of knowledge is conveyed on the what and how, we take a step back to reflect upon why improve literacy levels, what goal does it serve, and where are we headed with literacy education.

Currently, several efforts are being made in Europe to tackle this challenge, perhaps the most comprehensive one is the work of the ELINET network, the antecedents of which project are presented in one of the chapters. By inviting project coordinator Dr. Christine Garbe to contribute to the yearbook, we wanted to converge the efforts and knowledge of ELINET and CIDREE, and our hope is that members of both networks will find it useful to get a glimpse into each other’s resources and connections.

YB 15 Improving Literacy Skills Across Learning (PDF)

CIDREE Expert Meeting, Utrecht, October 8 - 9, 2015

What’s most worth learning?

During two days in early October, 16 representatives of 10 European countries came together to discuss what’s most worth learning in basic education, and explore new developments to improve learning for the future.
Expert Meeting Utrecht 2015
What’s most worth learning is one of the most relevant curricular questions at this very moment. In many countries discussions are taking place on what and which 21st century skills are of importance, how to incorporate them and how to assess them, if possible. Beyond the 21st century skills debate, is how we understand learning and how knowledge is linked to all this: whether at the center of the skills, or as content around the skills, or as part of general objectives through which competence is built.

Traditionally the dimensions (or elements) of transversal competences are described as knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. An important dimension added during the expert meeting is the dimension called ‘volition’, or ‘the faculty or power of using one's will’. Many of us found it an important contribution to the set of competences already incorporated in the 21st century skills. As the future is unknown and the need for our young people to steer themselves and take informed action will only grow, volition is a dimension of any given competence our young should possess. Wicked, or complex multidisciplinary problems need to be solved through collaboration between maybe unforeseen fields connecting together. Open mindedness to build such connections is important.


Wordle by Brigita