Adolescents are at the heart of the agenda of this team. With a specific focus on low-achieving students, this group of professionals designs country-reports tailored to age-specific and cross-cutting questions of adolescent literacy. This team is also very eager to learn about good literacy practices throughout Europe which is why they activate all their resources to collect cutting-edge literacy practices. All team members closely align their work with Team Childhood and Team Adults, often facing similar challenges – such as assessing the mass of research data readily available to compile thorough and articulate country-specific reports and guidance.
Team leader Christine Garbe steers a group of literacy professionals from the following organisations:
Belgian Francophone Reading Association (BELFRA), Belgium
Dutch Expertise Centre, The Netherlands
Kecskemét College, Hungary
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, Spain
Romanian Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Association, Romania
Swedish National Agency for Education, Sweden
Teacher Training Centre Arad, Romania
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland
University of Cologne, Germany
University of Iceland, Iceland
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
University of Liège (aSPe), Belgium
University of Minho, Portugal
What people in Team Adolescents say about ELINET
"Today, literacy is a key political question: ELINET will allow us to see how this question is raised in European countries." Anne Godenir – Belgian Francophone Reading Association (BELFRA), Belgium
"ELINET is a zoom that allows me to integrate my work in a much larger frame and that is great." Carmen Gonzalez Martí – Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, Spain
"Working with literacy professionals across Europe enables me to learn about diverse literacy policies and practices, which inspires our work in this area in Romania." Ariana Vacaretu – Romanian Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Association, Romania
Interview with team member Franziska Pitschke, University of Cologne
What is your team’s responsibility in ELINET?
As a member of Team Adolescents, I am focused on making the adolescent case in ELINET. Adolescence is a crucial phase in life: skills, ideas and personality evolve quickly during this passage into adulthood. Literacy is essential to master this transition, yet, no one seems to notice.
Teachers often assume that literacy acquisition is already achieved in elementary education, and policy makers are, in return, surprised by poor literacy performance in international tests. Not even adolescents notice how the digital world immerses them in reading and writing. We would like to reach out to these groups to influence their way of thinking, and hopefully, their way of acting.
Currently, we are perusing international studies and reports to make sense of all the data available. Our goal is to compile this information to create legible, comprehensive reports outlining the literacy performance and policy of all ELINET member countries. In the next stage we strive to define indicators of good and promising practices in the field of adolescent literacy together with teams 2 (children) and 4 (adults). Then, Team Adolescents will collect good practice examples all over Europe to further develop the indicators in a sort of „reality check“.
What do you hope to achieve with the network?
Literacy is far more than not being illiterate. As the report of the High Level Group of Experts on literacy puts it, literacy is rather a key to read and understand the world. Literacy is about enabling people to make the most of their lives by giving them the means necessary to be able to fully participate in society and on the job market.
ELINET hopes to give impulses to think about literacy policy in a different way. Our greatest resource is our network itself with its wide range of members from research-driven universities and educational ministries, to NGOs promoting reading for pleasure. Embracing these very different perspectives helps to broaden the literacy horizon beyond rankings and test scores, eventually leading to sustainable policies in our ever changing world.
What are the main challenges?
ELINET wants to set literacy on the agenda of regional, national and trans-national policy makers. In order to do so, our national country reports need to respond to the questions and challenges that policy makers in the 28 ELINET countries encounter in their daily work and in real life, so ELINET must supply them with meaningful data tailored to literacy purposes. Team Adolescents faces a myriad of official documents and research reports on adolescent literacy but much information, is only available in the national languages. To us, this is an exercise in literacy for ourselves: getting the right national sources, translating, reading and critically evaluating them, to then transform the retrieved information into writing.
How can those obstacles be overcome?
Again, our network is our greatest resource. ELINET bundles literacy expertise of 78 partner organizations in 28 countries. To make sure that we gather the most relevant data and that we find the most promising practice examples across Europe, ELINET relies on its national partners. So we must make sure that ELINET is a network owned by all of its members inspired by a shared cause.
Personally, how did you become interested in literacy work?
Having just completed the university part of my teacher education, I am an aspiring teacher – and thus an intermediary in the field of literacy myself. Early on in my college years, I was involved in reading promotion for students with migrant background which sparked my initial excitement for literacy. Consequently, learning about reading was one of my core interests in my further studies.
What I find fascinating about my work is that it brings the most diverse challenges together: evaluating information drawn from cutting-edge research, aligning it with practical policy implications, and always trying to think on a European scale, bearing witness to different education systems. Still at the beginning of my PhD, my work in Team Adolescents brings a fresh perspective to my own research how reading is developing in the 21st century and what that means for teachers.