Utrecht fights low literacy and computer knowledge

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We have already written about the work the library is doing in this area, but during this Week of Literacy, various other activities are being organized in Utrecht to draw attention to low literacy rates and the lack of computer skills.

On Friday 7 September from 13.00 – 17.00 several activities took place on the Stadhuisbrug to draw attention to language and computing skills hopefully introducing this to a large audience and to attract volunteers for language work. Interested folk engaged with Utrechters who have difficulty with this. Alderman Linda Voortman was there to recruit more volunteers.

It is a sad fact that about 30,000 Utrechters have problems with low literacy and the reality of this means difficulties facing them every day. They have difficulty reading, writing or getting access to or using computers and also have problems understanding and applying information in the Dutch language. This means they can not participate well in society. The reasons for this are many, but no blame is attached to those finding it difficult to access language and computer skills.

Alderman Linda Voortman feels that we have to do something about this because every citizen has to be able to participate fully in the life of the city. She feels that difficulties with language and computer skills should not stand in the way of equal opportunities. She is pleased that various organizations will be taking part in the Week of Literacy, and that hopefully there will be a lot more volunteers in the city, by the end of the week.

In addition to Alderman Voortman, language volunteers and students, staff from various language organizations and ROC students will be ready to chat to Utrecht residents at the ice cream stall or at the table about any worries or concerns that they have relating to language or computing skills. They will also be able to talk about the possibilities of volunteer work in Utrecht and how this eventually will benefit both the student and the volunteer. The pop-up (digi) Language Café on the Stadhuisbrug is based on Language Cafés that take place weekly in various Utrecht neighbourhoods. Many at local libraries where people are always made welcome.

In the province of Utrecht, as many as 8% of adults are have difficulty in reading and writing and this has major consequences. It makes people vulnerable: less self-reliant, less socially active and less healthy than literate people. But it is nothing to be ashamed about and although it may be difficult, people are encouraged to attend these sessions to get the help they deserve. The annual Week of Literacy will therefore take place from 3 to 9 September. This year, the various organizations want to draw attention to try to recruit as many new volunteers as possible who want to work as a language or computer teacher. A complete programme of the Week of Literacy is available at: wvdautrecht.nl/activiteiten

Image credit: William Harnett [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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