European Union commissioner Andre Piebalgs

BRUSSELS |  Literacy continues to be a major problem for Europe: 1 in 5 pupils and more than 73 million adults have difficulties with reading and writing.  Improving literacy across Europe has been a priority for the European Commission.  New moves are being made, but it has been deliberate. Curiously the examples being offered are in Africa but not in Europe proper.

In 2011, a high-level group identified best-practices and promote cooperation in this area across Europe. The group delivered its report in September 2012. In Brussels, on May 23, it was announced that some €2.5 billion will be mobilized for education by the EU. Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who hosted the conference, has made a commitment to ensure that by 2030, every child will be able to complete basic education, regardless of their circumstances, and have basic literacy and numeracy skills.

“This commitment was made in keeping with the EU’s long-standing strategy to invest in education and promote literacy in the EU and the developing world as a way of minimizing exclusion, inequalities and poverty worldwide,” states the EU prepared statement.

In this EuropeAid video, filmed in Puntland, girls at Gambool High School, Garowe, Puntland talk about the recent opening of an EU-financed Girl-Friendly Space on their grounds. A Girl-Friendly Space gives female pupils a place where they can study, socialize and pray together in privacy and security. See how this facility is encouraging greater uptake of education by secondary school-age girls.

Teachers and children in Zimbabwe, where chronic under-funding and economic decline saw a virtual collapse of the education system in 2008, have begun to return to school following EU-financed interventions.

Both initiatives were undertaken by the EU between 2007-2011, a period when the European Commission spent €4.2 billion on numerous educational schemes intended to secure access to primary and secondary school education for millions of children around the world, as well as develop country programming and ongoing EU Higher Education programs.

The support to education announced by Commissioner Piebalgs (a Latvian) is made as part of the EU’s 2014-2020 budget. At least €1.5 billion will go to the future Erasmus for All programme (an academic exchange programme between EU and overseas universities, which has helped pupils improve their education by gaining experience of studying abroad).

European Union commissioner Andre Piebalgs
European Union commissioner Andre Piebalgs


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