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A qualitative, inclusive, participatory, critical ethnographic study on the perceived effects of a community based program on low literacy for families in vulnerable areas



Projektleitung: Ivonne Lipsch-Wijnen Francois Molin Vanessa Torres van Grinsven



Description: In the Netherlands, the percentage of low-literate people is 12%. The average in the city of Heerlen is higher: 16%, and in the northern part of Heerlen (Heerlen-Noord) even at an average of 19% (GeletterdInZicht, n.d.). Low literacy is defined as having difficulty with reading and writing (Graesser et al., 2019; Lezen en Schrijven, 2020). Low literacy affects almost all areas of life: health, education, work, finances, social (Stichting Lezen en Schrijven, 2020). In effect, literacy inequality is related to social inequality in general (Street, 2011).

The basis for good language development preferably starts before birth, when a child is in a mother’s womb (Mariani et al., 2023). An average of 700 children are born per year in the municipality of Heerlen (CBS, 2024). Low literacy is posited to be a generational problem that is passed on from parents to children (SCHUNCK, 2022). This would mean that in Heerlen, 1 in 5 children are at risk of this generational transmission. From the viewpoint that it is in the first years of life that parents make the difference (Lankhorst, 2019), the local library Schunck has developed the family-oriented literacy program for parents with children. The intention of the program is to stimulate a) a language-rich (home) environment, b) language and reading promotion, c) reading pleasure, and d) awareness of the importance of language (SCHUNCK, 2022, p. 2, 8, 10). With the intention to reach the entire target group of children from 0 to 11 years old, the library looks for collaboration with network partners who naturally have a connection with these children and their parents, such as toddler care or youth care organizations (Schunck, 2022).


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