Literacy and Wellbeing

In: Perspectives on Wellbeing
Author: Ruth Falzon
Full Access

Abstract

Literacy is a 21st century fundamental human right and one of the most effective weapons against poverty

Those who are illiterate or who struggle to break the code to literacy continue to be challenged in schooling and to experience a poorer quality of life. This chapter challenges the reader to reflect on the meaning of literacy, the prevalence and effect of illiteracy on wellbeing, and compensatory strategies to access literacy. Readers will be challenges to reflect on the definition and parameters of literacy, the importance of literacy and what strategies to implement when literacy is an issue, also in relation to wellbeing, specific effects of illiteracy, and compensatory strategies that can be adopted when literacy is a challenge.

Introduction

The word ‘literacy’ represents several systematic representations of knowledges and skills, including ‘computer literacy’, ‘cultural literacy’, ‘moral literacy’ ‘emotional literacy’ and ‘critical literacy’ (Corradetti, 2017; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Caste, & Henry, 2017). This chapter focuses on the traditional understanding of literacy – namely reading, traditional writing and extracting messages from printed texts (International Social Science Council (ISSC), Institute of Development Studies (IDS), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2016). Although this chapter deals with access to literacy rather than critical literacy itself, it shares with critical literacy a full commitment to empowerment and social justice. Critical literacy is a theoretical, political and practical concept which promotes an understanding of “the relationship between texts, meaning-making and power to undertake transformative social action that contributes to the achievement of a more equitable social order” (Janks & Vasquez, 2011, p. 1). Critical literacy allow for frameworks that address literacy teaching and learning that can withstand continuously changing realities across time, space, place and situation (Vasquez, 2016). Inspired by the work of the 1920s Frankfurt School (Corradetti, 2017) and later on by Paulo Freire’s work (Freire, 1972; Freire & Macedo, 1987), critical literacy embraces multimodalities and new technologies, including the concept of multilingual settings. This chapter deems that critical literacy is the best way forward to eradicate poverty and helplessness.

Historically, literacy has only been part of human civilisation for about 10,000 years, compared to 100,000 years of human language (Palmer, 2009). Civilisations who utilised literacy have connected with world leaders and other civilisations who now form part of the United Nations (UN) (Nadin, 1997). Further, literacy became more widely available to all and was given more prominence around 160 years ago, when nations started to focus on education and literacy for all as opposed to the few elite (Collins & Blot, 2003). Literacy now pervades every part of our lives and affects wellbeing (Antonelli et al., 2014; Burden & Burdett, 2005). This chapter builds on four basic premises: (a) Literacy is a fundamental human right (b) literacy is vital for access to education, employment and wellbeing; (c) non-access to literacy leads to poorer quality of life; and (d) for those who find difficulty accessing print, the use of technology must be considered.

Defining Reading and Writing

Reading is gleaning meaning from print (Butler, 1982). This involves reading accurately and fluently to access meaning (Moats, 1999). The ability to decode single words – simultaneously recognising letter/s (graphemes representing phonemes) and blending them into a word accurately – does not automatically lead to the ability to read paragraphs with the fluency and ease to process comprehension (Aro, 2004). An analogy can be made with new and seasoned car drivers. New drivers concentrate on mechanics, whilst seasoned drivers concentrate on destinations. Beginner-drivers can start cars, change gears and manoeuvre steering (the skills of reading); but what about their performance on the road (the message)? If decoding (reading skill) is not an automatic process and if readers do not have the adequate sight-word vocabulary bank, then reading comprehension (the message) is affected. For example, if it takes one ten seconds to read ‘indicate’ or ‘cerebral’, can one equate this with the ability to access print fluently and effortlessly?

As you are reading this text, you may want to reflect on how many words you are actually decoding or recognising (Bell, 2001). You are probably an efficient reader, hence beyond the decoding stage due to practice. Practice has led you to amass thousands of sight words in your memory, which words you recognise automatically. You will only slow down when decoding unfamiliar (e.g. machairophyllum latifolium) or made-up (e.g. phlograthompinantation) words. How would you feel if you had to read a paragraph full of unfamiliar words? What would you do in such a situation?

The experience is also comparable for spelling and writing. Spelling is the ability to automatically transform words into their written format. Accomplished and efficient readers and spellers have sight word vocabulary banks which lead them to recognise rather than decode (read) and retrieve rather than encode (spell). This automaticity is vital for accessing meaning from print and transforming thoughts into written language. Writing then involves translating ideas to vocabulary to sentences to word orders to words to sounds in words to letters and to punctuation. If these skills are not automatic than the production suffers. One notes that expected adult reading fluency to easily glean meaning from print is loosely rated at around 200–250 words per minute and average adult handwriting speed at 25 words per minute (Lemov, Driggs, & Woolway, 2016).

Literacy and Wellbeing

All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been; it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. (Carlyle, 1981, p. 160)

A basic difference between animal and human learning is that animals learn mostly from instinct while humans from each other. The need to learn from others and to pass on learning has led us to find ways to record our knowledge for future generations (Ormrod, 2011) Most civilisations have opted for a visual method, namely written messages (Bartlett, López, Vasudevan, & Warriner, 2011).

The post-industrial era witnessed the introduction of literacy on educational, economic, and political agenda (Clinton, 1997). Today literacy is regarded as a human right to access education and employment (Massarelli, Giovannola, & Wozowczyk, 2011), often seen as a means to address poverty (Moretti & Frandell, 2013) and oppression (UNESCO, 2018b) through the skills of “understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2016, p. 19). The OECD 2016 survey reports that “adults with lower skills are far more likely than those with better literacy skills to report poor health, to perceive themselves as objects rather than actors in political processes, and to have less trust in others” (p. 3).

Literacy, Wellbeing and Quality of Life

Literacy is the key to unlocking the cage of human misery; the key to delivering the potential of every human being; the key to opening up a future of freedom and hope. (Annan, 2003, para. 6)

Literacy empowers livelihoods, enhances community participation, helps gain access to community services and realizes citizens’ rights (Bartlett et al., 2011). UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s International Literacy Day message (2009) notes that literacy is not “just about reading and writing; it is about independence, respect, human development and opportunities for learning and employment” (para. 8). Ki-moon cautions that, despite enormous global wealth where education and knowledge are passports to a better life, illiteracy is still rampant:

[g]lobally … at least 750 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills. This results in an exclusion of low-literate and low-skilled youth and adults from full participation in their communities and societies. (UNESCO, 2018a, para. 4)

Females account for almost two thirds of this populations (UNESCO, 2018b). On the occasion of the designation of Ms Lauren Child as UNESCO Artist for Peace, UNESCO Director-General Mr Koïchiro Matsuura (2008) explained,

Since its foundation in 1946, UNESCO has been at the forefront of global efforts to keep literacy high on national, regional and international agendas. However, with some 776 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all remains an elusive target. (p. 2)

Indeed, AlNasser (2012) refers to illiteracy as “a staggering problem” (p. 3). This is even more tragic as it would not take much human or financial resources to change this situation. “[E]ven the simplest acquisition of literacy can have a profoundly empowering effect personally, socially and politically” (Ki-moon, 2009, para. 3). Ki-moon reminds us that literacy is regarded invaluable for social and economic benefits and enables individuals and communities empower themselves (UNESCO, 2018a, 2018b).

The 1997 International Adult Literacy Survey (Kirsch & Jenkins, 1998) reminds that individuals with lower levels of literacy are more likely to be on social welfare, in poverty or involved in crime; and less likely to be working full-time (Noble, 2018). Literate parents are more likely to send their children to school and are better able to access continuing educational opportunities. Furthermore, literate societies are better geared to meet pressing and continuous developments (OECD, 2016). Literacy difficulties cost the global economy 1.1 trillion euros each year and the EU economy over 350 billion euros each year due to lost earnings and limited employability; lost business productivity; lost wealth creation opportunities; lower technology skills capacity; higher spending related to health problems; higher spending on the justice system due to more crime; higher spending on social services and benefits; and higher spending on education due to students falling (European Literacy Policy Network [ELINET], 2015; The World Literacy Foundation [WLF], 2015).

Literacy – A Necessity for Living?

In a context where globalization is placing new demands on the ‘literacies’ we need in our work and everyday life, good quality basic education aims to equip one with literacy skills for life and further learning (Freire, 1970). The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA, 2007) notes that educational opportunities depend on literacy. The Education for All (EFA) committee (UNESCO, 2005) stresses that eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, addressing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace, democracy and empowerment are some of the good reasons why literacy is at EFA’s core.

Prevalence and Effect of Illiteracy on Wellbeing

The OECD (2003) notes that although it was thought that oral and aural modes of communication used for the telephone and television would replace printed text, the opposite has happened. Literacy enhances coping skills in modern environments, giving individuals possibilities to access society, institutions, available resources and structures within communities such as courts, commerce and entertainment. Literacy also affects how we develop cognitively as it enhances and supports learning processes (OECD, 2016).

Since 2001 The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) has periodically conducted Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies (PIRLS). The latest 2016 PIRLS (Howie et al., 2017; IEA, 2017; Mullis) concludes that, compared to 15 years ago, there are more ‘good readers’, and that literacy improved in 18 countries between 2011 to 2016. Ten countries, including Malta, registered a decline in literacy during this period. Malta’s scores were less than the mean and placed 40th of 50, only scoring better than nine other countries: Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa. This is of great local concern, even when one takes into consideration that PIRLS does not recognise Malta’s bilingual situation (Borg, Mifsud, & Sciriha, 1996), and situations where relatively small student numbers do not allow big data statistical analyses. It would be interesting to compare local results with countries that have a similar reality to Malta such as Estonia and Cyprus, which did not participate. The Pisa 2015 results indicate that the reading average score for Maltese students was significantly lower than the international average, with 41 countries’ mean reading score significantly higher, and 28 countries significantly lower, than Malta (Ministry for Education and Employment [MEDE], 2015).

The National Centre for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2017) and the National Association for Educational Progress (NAEP, 2017) quote similar alarming figures in the United States: a third of 10–11 year olds are unable to read simple books fluently with 38% reading below basic levels; and over 50% of adolescents with a history of criminal and substance abuse evidence reading problems. Sulkunen (2013) reports increasing numbers of Europeans with poor literacy skills, with low performance increasing. The Maltese National Statistics Office (NSO, 2010) quotes 11.24% illiteracy in 1995, 7.2% in 2005 and 1.7% illiteracy in 2008 among 11- to 19-year olds. The PISA 2009+ report (Walker, 2011) reveals that 36% of Maltese 15-year olds leave school without baseline functional literacy, compared to 19% mean in OECD counties. Malta is notable among PISA 2009+ participants in that it has a relatively large proportion of advanced readers but also relatively large proportions of poor and very poor readers (Walker, 2011, p. XV).

One in seven Europeans quits education or training without adequate qualifications. Although rates have declined from 54.2% in 2000 to 36.8% in 2009, in 2011 Maltese early school leavers (ESL) remained the highest in the European Union (EU Commission, 2011), with 40% not attaining the School Leaving Certification (NSO, 2010). However, NSO (2013) reports some anomalies regarding these data. Following discussion with Eurostat, “Eurostat provided a number of instructions regarding the extent of the revisions to educational attainment data and consequently to Early School Leaving rates” (p. 3). This allowed NSO to remap the data. By 2014, ESL was down to 20.4% (NSO, 2015). Notwithstanding this decrease and remapping, Eurostat (2017) still evidences Malta with this highest number of school leavers: “[i]n 2016, an average of 10.7 % of young people (aged 18–24) in the EU-28 were early leavers from education and training (para. 3) … [T]he proportion of early leavers in 2016 ranged from 2.8% ... to 19.6% in Malta” (para. 4).

The 2010 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) survey concludes that 52 % of employers were dissatisfied with school leavers’ basic literacy, with “anger from employers that after 11 years of education, literacy and numeracy skills can often be so bad” (Birdwell, Grist, & Margo, 2011, p. 47). Employers also feel that the burden of upgrading these skills should not fall on them or, if it does, governments should provide compensation. Birdwell et al. (2011) report that for every sterling invested to address poor literacy and numeracy, such as Every Child a Reader (Burroughs-Lange & Douetil, 2006) or Every Child Counts (Torgerson et al., 2011) there can be a return of £11 to £19 per lifetime. A local survey (Jobsplus, Malta Enterprise, National Commission for Further and Higher Education [NCFHE], 2017) presents a similar situation. UNESCO (2017) pledges to advance literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (para. 5), “[to] achieve this by building strong foundations; quality basic education for all children; scaling-up functional literacy levels for youth and adults who lack basic literacy skills; and developing literate environments” (bullets para. 6).

The EU Council (EC) unequivocally turns to education as crucial in addressing socio-economic statuses and always links literacy and education to labour market increase, such as its ten-year (2010–2020) plan to raise EU employment from 64.2% to 75% (Massarelli, Giovannola, & Wozowczyk, 2011). The EC (2006) refers to difficulties due to low literacy performance, early school leaving, and challenges experienced by learners from migrant families or disadvantaged groups.

The Matthew Effect

If you see inequality and poverty, you’re seeing the impact of illiteracy. (Branson, 2015, para. 2)

Access to print paves the way for learning and economic growth, justifying the importance given to ensuring that young learners learn to read as early and as expediently as possible. The path to efficient reading starts (environmental reading) and ends (fluent reading) with sight-word reading. The speed and effectiveness of early literacy learning process affects success in learning and has a Matthew Effect (Stanovich, 1986, 2000).

The “Matthew Effect” (Rigney, 2010) reflects concepts of quality of life and EFA (UNESCO, 2007). Coined by Robert K. Merton in 1968, the term derives its name from “For to him who has shall be given and he shall have abundance; but from him who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29, King James Version). Merton describes how in science, eminent and established scientists often get more credit than comparatively unknown researchers, even if their work is similar (Rigney, 2010). Stanovich (1986, 2000) adopts this term to early reading success and school achievement. He describes the phenomenon that early literary success usually leads to later successes in reading and general learning; whilst failing to learn to read by early primary schooling may indicate life-long problems in learning new skills. Since non- or weak readers would read less and have less access to the verbal-visual printed text, the gap between them and their peers would increase and they would fall further and further behind in school. This may also result in higher school drop-out rates (Stanovich, 1986, 2000). “[I]n the words of a tearful nine-year-old, already falling frustratingly behind his peers in reading progress, ‘Reading affects everything you do’” (Adams, pp. 59–60).

Catch Them before They Fall (Torgesen, 1998)

In this context, the relevance of early literacy success becomes vital, leading to a need for effective and expedient teaching techniques to address literacy in early years (Falzon, 2012). Early literacy classroom instruction is considered a core contributor to high incidences of literacy challenges (Birsh, 2005). Research findings attribute poor classroom instruction to lack of basic understanding of concepts related to language structure (Moats, 2009). In a context where (a) reading “serves as the major conduit for all learning” (Podhajski, Mather, Nathan, & Sammons, 2009, p. 403); and where (b) the PISA 2009+ report (Walker, 2011) indicates significantly lower percentages of Maltese fifteen year olds (64%) with baseline literacy when compared to other OECD countries (81%), one needs to reflect on initial teacher training (ITT) curricula, policies and politics locally and abroad.

ITT curricula are generally composed of four major areas: (a) foundational knowledge in education-related areas of knowledge; (b) skills in assessing and addressing student learning; (c) content-area, methods, knowledge and skills; and (d) supervised teaching practice (Ashby et al., 2008). ITT is the subject of political discussion and usually reflects governments’ values, culture and significant financial resources. Thus, what knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills educators should possess is an important debate. Teachers are entrusted with the transmission of government-led purposely selected knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills necessary for effective living in societies with sustainable economies (Demaine & Entwistle, 2016).

A critical analysis of the literature points to a need for more links between theories and the classroom experience (Alexander, 2004); more emphasis on hard-core pedagogy (Louden & Rohl, 2006); and a better effort to produce early literacy teachers with a sound theoretical and knowledge background backed by effective teaching techniques for early literacy (Moats, 2009). Falzon (2012) reports that whilst Maltese early educators in her study appreciated reading theories they were exposed to, they perceived a need for more training to be effective literacy teachers, echoing EU’s concern that “[m]ember States are often failing to give teachers the training they need” (EC Communication, 2007, p. 1). Hirsch (1996) proposes that failing to teach children literacy in order to cope with further learning is the greatest form of injustice in education which can actually be prevented.

50% of just-graduated engineers’ knowledge becomes obsolete within five years; 90% of our present seven-year olds will possibly be in jobs which do not yet exist; and unemployed people are mostly negatively affected by attitudinal barriers, lack of confidence in their ability to learn, increasing lack of training motivation with age and, mostly, lack of literacy (Richmond et al., 2008). Knowledge is growing and changing so fast that education is turning towards development of generic competences, or character strengths (Bezzina, 2016). These are also referred to as ‘soft’ (Adnan, Daud, Alias, & Razali, 2017) or ‘transversal’ (Ribeiro, Severo, & Ferreira, 2016) skills and include continuously changing and new competencies, and knowledges (Camilleri, Caruana, Falzon, & Muscat, 2012), wherein literacy remains paramount.

Failure to Learn

Excluding other reasons for failure in learning how to read, a conservative 10% of populations have specific challenges with literacy (Lyon, Schaywitz, & Schaywitz, 2003) whilst capable in and coping with other areas of learning, if literacy were not a barrier (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). These are usually referred to as having a profile of dyslexia (World Health Organisation [WHO], 1992) or specific reading difficulties (APA, 2013). In spite of having access to education, people with dyslexia may experience barriers to learning, qualifications and employment if their literacy challenges are not appropriately addressed (Joshi, Dahlgren, & Boulware-Gooden, 2002). When addressing and supporting literacy challenges, one needs to address intervention from two perspectives: facilitating access to knowledge and improving literacy skills (Falzon, 2012).

Compensatory Strategies to Access Literacy

With regard to access to learning, technology has improved so much (Schmar-Dobler, 2003), that schools must consider its use to access print (Lysenko & Abrami, 2014). Technology is regarded as the “fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge following language, writing and print” (Harnad, 1991, p. 39). Warschauer and Matuchniak (2010) report that there is broad consensus among educators, communication scholars, sociologists and economists that “information and communication technologies (ICT) … bridge the interactive features of speech and archival characteristics of writing” (p. 179).

Gutenberg’s printing press (c.1440) started the third revolution (printing). It took centuries for print to truly infiltrate and affect society with the advent of industrial Revolution (c.1760). The transition between the Print and Technology was faster. We transitioned from an industrial to an informative economy in mere decades (Castells, 2010). We are now experiencing two realities: the fourth revolution (technology) in economy and most strata of life and the third revolution (Print) which still dominates our education systems.

Educational pedagogy, examination systems and implementation and resources have not transformed at the same speed of technology. Our young and future generations still experience very traditional forms of access and opportunity to perform in assessment, namely learning and assessment mostly relying on paper and pen.

Technological Support to Literacy

Since the speed and effectiveness of early literacy learning affects success in learning (Stanovich, 2000), technology to access and present print should be utilised more, especially for those struggling with literacy (Gotesman & Goldfus, 2010). Standard computers already incorporate adaptations to address all aspects of literacy (Abilitynet, 2015). Free downloadable material (e.g. My Computer My Way https://mcmw.abilitynet.org.uk/), are available and allow add-on applications to computers, such as text-to-speech (https://www.natural readers.com/online/). The market also has commercial affordable computer programmes (e.g. Nuance Dragon Professional https://www.nuance.com/en-gb/dragon/business-solutions/dragon-professional-individual.html) which not only include speech to text but also organisation features; and tools, such as the Reader Pen (http://www.readerpen.com/pen reader) for general use or the Exam Reader (http://www.examreader.com/) for use during examinations. Falzon and Camilleri (2014) go even further:

whether candidates should sit for [examinations] orally … typewritten … or … handwritten … should be as basic as the choice of … wearing or not wearing … prescription glasses … examination objectives are not compromised if aural input and oral output are used, unless reading and spelling themselves are being assessed. (p. 1)

Just as literacy should be given priority in education, for those with neurological challenges to access it, technology should be used as a compensatory strategy. Literature clearly evidences the negative effects challenges with literacy have on wellbeing (Burden, 2008). Educational systems and educators must avoid unnecessary suffering by challenging their definition of learning and performance in examinations and knowledges (Chetcuti, Falzon, & Camilleri, 2016, 2018).

Reflection

In America 43% of adults with Level 1 (most basic) literacy skills live in poverty compared to only 4% at Level 5. Three out of four food stamp [American social support provision] recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels. 90% of welfare recipients are highschool dropouts; 85% of juvenile court systems’ populations are functionally illiterate; and more than 60% of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate (Haberman, Gillette, & Hill, 2017). Clinton’s 1994 International Literacy Day message implored: “Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility … [T]o meet the challenges of the 21st century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens” (para. 2). EU Directive and Regulation 2017/1563 (Office Journal of the EU, 2017) on access to print was published in September 2017 and decreed that the law shall apply from October 2018. This law “facilitate[s] access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled, and to allow people with print disabilities to access books and other print material in formats that are accessible to them” (European Commission, 2017, para. 1). This supports my argument regarding alternative access to and presentation of literary material.

In this chapter, I endeavoured to present a definition and parameters of literacy, the importance of literacy and what to implement when literacy is an issue. The aim was to help the reader reflect on (a) this skill in relation to wellbeing, (b) specific effects of illiteracy, and (c) compensatory strategies that can be adopted when literacy is a challenge. We need to take an active role to ensure that the fundamental right of literacy is indeed given to all. The negative experiences of children and parents for whom literacy is a difficult skill, and the stories of opportunities lost due to lack of literacy skills locally and world-wide need to be eradicated. Sadness, frustration and opportunities lost due to lack of traditional literacy skills need to be eradicated both by appropriate teaching and alternative routes to accessing and presenting print.

References

  • AbilityNet. (2015). Factsheet – Dyslexia and computing. Retrieved from https://www.abilitynet.org.uk/sites/abilitynet

  • Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Adnan, Y. M., Daud, M. N., Alias, A., & Razali, M. N. (2017). Importance of soft skills for graduates in the real estate programmes in Malaysia. Journal of Surveying, Construction and Property, 3(2).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alexander, R. (2004). Still no pedagogy? Principle, pragmatism and compliance in primary education. Cambridge Journal of education, 34(1), 733.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Al­ Nasser, N. A. (2012). Celebrating international literacy day. Rethinking literacy: How far have we gone in reaching the literacy goal? Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/66/International-Literacy-Day%20Brochure-Modified.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Annan, K. (2003). The secretary-general’s remarks to mark the launching of the United Nations literacy decade. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/press/en/2003/sgsm8606.doc.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Antonelli, L., Bilocca, S., Borg, D., Borg, S., Boxall, M., Briffa, L., Debono C., Falzon, R., Farrugia, V., Formosa, M., Gatt, L., Mifsud, D., Mizzi, K., Scurfield, L., Scurfield, M., & Vella, G. L. (2014). Drama, performance ethnography, and self-esteem: Listening to youngsters with dyslexia and their parents. SAGE Open, 4(2). doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aro, M. (2004). Learning to read: The effect of orghography. Jyväskylän yliopisto.

  • Ashby, P., Hobson, A. J., Tracey, L., Malderez, A., Tomlinson, P. D., Roper, T., Chambers, G. N., & Healy, J. (2008). Beginner teachers’ experiences of initial teacher preparation, induction and early professional development: A review of literature. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bartlett, L., López, D., Vasudevan, L., & Warriner, D. (2011). The anthropology of literacy. A Companion to the Anthropology of Education, 177196.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bell, T. (2001). Extensive reading: Speed and comprehension. The Reading Matrix, 1(1).

  • Bezzina, A. (2016). Personal and social development practice at the University of Malta: Its presence and positive contribution: A reality or a mirage? (Doctoral dissertation). University of Nottingham, Nottingham.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Birdwell, J., Grist, M., & Margo, J. (2011). The forgotten half: A DEMOS and private equity foundation report. London: DEMOS. Retrieved from http://www.demos. co.uk/files/The_Forgotten_Half_-_web.pdf?1300105344

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Birsh, J. R. (2005). Research and reading disability. In J. R. Birsh (Ed.), Multisensory teaching of basic language skills (2nd ed., pp. 121). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Borg, A., Mifsud, M., & Schiriha, L. (1996). The position of Maltese in Malta. Meeting for experts on language planning. Malta: Council of Europe.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Branson, R. (2015). Branson backs global literacy campaign (As reported by Pearson). Retrieved from https://www.pearson.com/corporate/news/media/news-announcements/2015/10/richard-branson-backs-global-literacy-campaign.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burden, R. (2008). Is dyslexia necessarily associated with negative feelings of self worth? A review and implications for future research. Dyslexia, 14(3), 188196.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burden, R., & Burdett, J. (2005). Factors associated with successful learning in pupils with dyslexia: A motivational analysis. British Journal of Special Education, 32(2), 100104.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burroughs-Lange, S., & Douetil, J. (2006). Evaluation of reading recovery in London schools: Every child a reader, 2005–2006. London: Institute of Education, University of London.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Butler, D. (1982). Reading begins at home. Theory into Practice, 21(4), 308314.

  • Camilleri, S., Caruana, A., Falzon, R., & Muscat, M. (2012). The promotion of emotional literacy through PSD – The Maltese experience. Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development’, 30(1), 1937.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carlyle, T. (1981). All that mankind has done, thought, gained or been. US: Greenbrae Press.

  • Castells, M. (2010). End of millennium (Vol. 3). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Chetcuti, D., Falzon, R., & Camilleri, S. (2016). d pebble in my shoe: Teenagers’ experience of dyslexia and examinations. Malta: Outlook Coop.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clinton, W. J. (1994, August 24). Statement on the observance of international literacy day (Online by G. Peters & J. T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project). Retrieved from http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=49016

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clinton, W. J. (1997). State of the Union address. Retrieved from http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/SOU97

  • Collins, J., & Blot, R. (2003). Literacy and literacies: Texts, power, and identity (Vol. 22). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Confederation of British Industry (CBI). (2010). Ready to grow: Business priorities for education and skills. Education and skills survey 2010. Retrieved from http://www.britishcouncil.org/zh/education_and_skills_survey_2010.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Corradetti, C. (2017). The multiple identities of critical theory: A Hydra or a Proteus? Philosophy & Social Criticism, 43(3), 306307.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Council of the European Union. (2006). Presidency conclusions 23/24 March 2006. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/89013.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Demaine, J., & Entwistle, H. (Eds.). (2016). Beyond communitarianism: Citizenship, politics and education. New York, NY: Springer.

  • Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), UN. (2007). The United Nations development agenda: Development for all. New York, NY: UN.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • European Commission. (2017, September 25). Implementation of the Marrakesh treaty (News Article). Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/implementation-marrakesh-treaty-eu-law

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • European Literacy Policy Network (ELINET). (2015). Literacy in Europe: Facts and figures. Retrieved from http://www.eli-net.eu/fileadmin/ELINET/Redaktion/Factsheet-Literacy_in_Europe-A4.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • European Union Commission. (2011). Malta has largest early school leavers rate in EU: The EU in Malta. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/malta/news/early_school_ leavers_ en.htm

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eurostat. (2011). Your key to European statistics. Retrieved from http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/education/introduction

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eurostat. (2017). Early leavers from education and training. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/Eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Early_leavers_from_education_and_training

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Falzon, R. (2012). Early educators’ awareness and knowledge of structured multisensory literacy techniques (Doctoral dissertation). Northumbria University, Newcastle. Retrieved from http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/10837/1/falzon.ruth_phd.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Falzon, R., & Camilleri, J. (2014). Request for oral examinations at the SEC and MATSEC levels. National petition presented to the Maltese Parliament. Retrieved from https://www.change.org/p/ministry-for-education-and-employment-give-the-option-to-students-to-do-their-examinations-in-writing-orally-or-using-a-word-processor

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Freire, P. (1970). The pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Harper and Harper.

  • Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. Westport, CT: Praeger.

  • Gotesman, E., & Goldfus, C. (2010). The impact of assistive technologies on the reading outcomes of college students with disabilities. Educational Technology, 50(3), 2125.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haberman, M., Gillette, M. D., & Hill, D. A. (2017). Star teachers of children in poverty. London: Routledge.

  • Harnad, S. (1991). Post-Gutenberg galaxy: The fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems Review, 2(1), 3953.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hirsch, E. D. (1996). The schools we need and why we don’t have them (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Anchor Books, Doubleday.

  • Howie, S., Combrinck, C., Roux, K., Tshele, M., Mokoena, G., & Palane, N. M. (2017). PIRLS 2016. Pretoria, South Africa: Centre for Evaluation and Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.up.ac.za/media/shared/164/ZP_Files/1.-pl-highlights-website_14.12.17.zp137666.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). (2017). PIRLS 2016 – International results in Reading. Boston, MA: TIMMS & PIRLS International Study Centre, Lynch School of Education, Boston College and International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Social Science Council (ISSC), Institute of Development Studies (IDS), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2016). World social science report 2016. Challenging inequalities: Pathways to a just world. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Janks, H., & Vasquez, V. (Eds.). (2011). Critical literacy revisited. A special issue of teaching practice and critique. New Zealand: Waikato University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jobsplus, Malta Enterprise, NCFHE. (2017). National employee skills survey, Malta. Retrieved from https://ncfhe.gov.mt/en/research/Documents/Employee%20Skills%20Survey/Employee%20Skills%20Survey%20report.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Joshi, R. M., Dahlgren, M., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2002). Teaching reading in an inner city school through a multisensory teaching approach. Annals of Dyslexia, 52, 229242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ki-moon, B. (2009). Message for international literacy day. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/press/en/2009/sgsm12423.doc.htm

  • Kirsch, I. S., & Jenkins, L. B. (1998). Introduction. In T. S. Murray, I. S. Kirsch, & L. B. Jenkins (Eds.), Adult literacy in OECD countries: Technical report on the first international adult literacy survey (pp. 1322). Washington, DC: National Centre for Education Statistics Office of Educational Research and Improvement: U.S. Department of Education. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/98053.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lemov, D., Driggs, C., & Woolway, E. (2016). Reading reconsidered: A practical guide to rigorous literacy instruction. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J., Castek, J., & Henry, L. A. (2017). New literacies: A dual-level theory of the changing nature of literacy, instruction, and assessment. Journal of Education, 197(2), 118.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Louden, W., & Rohl, M. (2006). Too many theories and not enough instruction: Perception of pre-service teacher preparation for literacy teaching in Australian Schools. Literacy, 40(2), 6678.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lyon, G. R., Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2003). A definition of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 53(1), 114.

  • Lysenko, L. V., & Abrami, P. C. (2014). Promoting reading comprehension with the use of technology. Computers & Education, 75, 162172.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Massarelli, N., Giovannola, D., & Wozowczyk, M. (2011). EU-27 employment and unemployment levels stable. Eurostat Statistics in Focus, 8, 2011.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matsuura, K. (2008). Address on the occasion of the designation of Ms Lauren Child as UNESCO artist for peace. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001786/178614E.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ministry for Education and Employment. (2015). PISA 2015 Malta National Report. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.mt/en/international_studies/Documents/PISA_2015_Malta%20Report.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moats, L. C. (1999). Teaching reading IS rocket science: What expert teachers of reading should know and be able to do. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moats, L. C. (2009). Still wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(5), 387391.

  • Moretti, G. A. S., & Frandell, T. (2013). Literacy from a right to education perspective. Report of the director general of UNESCO to the United Nations General Assembly 68th Session.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nadin, M. (1997). The civilization of illiteracy. Dresden: Dresden University Press.

  • National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP). (2017). Mathematics and reading assessment. Highlighted results at Grade 4 and 8 for the nation, state and districts. Washington, DC: US Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2017_highlights/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Centre for Educational Statistics (NCES). (2017). The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/piaac/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Statistics Office (NSO). (2010). Education statistics 2007. Valletta: National Statistics Office.

  • National Statistics Office (NSO). (2013). Re-mapping of information relating to the rate of early leavers from education and training. Retrieved from https://nso.gov.mt/en/nso/Sources_and_Methods/Documents/Education/Re-mapping_of_information_relating_to_the_rate_of_Early_Leavers_from_Education_and_Training.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Statistics Office (NSO). (2015). Key indicators on the labour market: 2005–2014. Retrieved from https://nso.gov.mt/en/NewsReleases/View_by_Unit/Unit_C2/Labour_Market_Statistics/Documents/2015/News2015_124.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Noble, C. (2018). Social work, collective action and social movements: Re-thematising the local-global nexus. In L. Dominelli (Ed.), Revitalising communities in a globalising world (pp. 109118). London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Official Journal of the European Union. (2017). Regulation 2017/1563 of the European parliament and of the council of 13 September 2017 on the cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other subject matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled. Retrieved from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32017R1563&from=EN

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2003). Literacy skills for the world of tomorrow – Further results from PISA 2000. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/43/9/33690591.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2016). The survey of adult skills: Reader’s companion (2nd ed.). Paris: OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264258075-en

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2018). PISA 2015 pisa results in focus. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Development. Programme for International Student Assessment, OECD Staff, Development (OECD) Staff, Programa Internacional para el Seguimiento de Adquisiciones de los alumnos (PISA) de la OCDE, Programme for International Student Assessment, … & SourceOECD (Online service). (2004). PISA learning for tomorrow’s world: First results from PISA 2003 (Vol. 659). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Human learning. London: Pearson Higher Ed.

  • Palmer, K. A. (2009). Understanding human language: An in-depth exploration of the human facility for language. Inquiries Journal, 1(12).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Podhajski, B., Mather, N., Nathan, J., & Sammons, J. (2009). Professional development in scientifically based reading instruction: Teacher knowledge and reading outcomes. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(5), 403417.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribeiro, L., Severo, M., & Ferreira, M. A. (2016). Performance of a core of transversal skills: Self-perceptions of undergraduate medical students. BMC Medical Education, 16(1), 18.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rigney, D. (2010). The Matthew effect: How advantage begets further advantage. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

  • Schmar-Dobler, E. (2003). Reading on the internet: The link between literacy and technology. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(1), 8085.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21(4), 360407.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stanovich, K. E. (2009). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Journal of Education, 189(1–2), 2355.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stanovich, K. E. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and New Frontiers. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

  • Sulkunen, S. (2013). Adolescent literacy in Europe—An urgent call for action. European Journal of Education, 48(4), 528542.

  • Torgerson, C. J., Wiggins, A., Torgerson, D. J., Ainsworth, H., Barmby, P., Hewitt, C., Jones, K., Hendry, V., Askew, M., Bland, M., Coe, R., Higgins, S., Hodgen, J., Hulme, C., & Tymms, P. (2011). Every child counts: The independent evaluation. London: Department for Education (DfE). Retrieved from http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/2376/1/2376_DFE-RR091A.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Torgesen, J. K. (1998). Catch them before they fall. American Educator, 22, 3241.

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2005). Education for all global monitoring report – Education for all: 2006 literacy for life. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001416/141639e.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2007). Education for all by 2015: Will we make it? Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2016). Global education monitoring report 2016: Education for people and planet – Creating sustainable future for all. Paris: UNESCO.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2018a). Literacy. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2018b). Literacy. Retrieved from http://uis.unesco.org/en/topic/literacy

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vasquez, V. M. (2016). Critical literacy across the K-6 curriculum. London: Routledge.

  • Walker, M. (2011). PISA 2009 plus results. Performance for 15 year-olds in reading mathematics and science in 10 additional participants. Camberwell: ACER Press (Australian Council for Educational Research).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warschauer, M., & Matuchniak, T. (2010). New technology and digital worlds: Analyzing evidence of equity in access, use, and outcomes. Review of Research in Education, 34(1), 179225.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Health Organization. (1992). The International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders: clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines (Vol. 1). World Health Organization.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Literacy Foundation. (2015, August 24). The economic and social costs of illiteracy; A snapshot of illiteracy in a global context. Final report from the World Literacy Foundation.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation