Lezen en Schrijven

12 September 2019 - At the heart of society

New teaching material helps low-literate people with digital skills

Planning a route, doing an income tax return, or traveling with public transport: nowadays, everyone can arrange almost everything online. For the 2.5 million people in the Netherlands who have difficulties with reading, writing, and/or arithmetic, digital skills cannot be taken for granted. That’s why Stichting Lezen & Schrijven has worked with the KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds to develop new teaching materials at the simplest language level, called Succes!. Digital skills Geke van Velzen, director of Stichting Lezen & Schrijven, handed over the new textbooks and e-learning modules today to course participants, volunteers, and the KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds.

For the first time, thanks to Succes! Digitale Vaardigheden (Digital skills), there is material at the simplest language level and trained volunteers or teachers working with participants. The material consists of various booklets and an e-learning module. A paper course book makes the subject matter accessible for people who have difficulties with language. With e-learning, they can also practice what they have learned on a computer or smartphone. The chance of insufficient digital skills is about three times higher among the low-literate group than it is among people who have a good command of language.

‘This is an important addition to the great material that is already available, for example through the library. Now people with a very low language level can also learn to e-mail, to use the internet, and WhatsApp assisted by a volunteer, because not everyone can get started behind the computer without help’, says Geke van Velzen. The exercise booklets focus on daily situations, like apping or sending an e-mail. Some 300 course participants and KPN volunteers joined the pilot for the development of the teaching materials. ‘From next week, this material can be used anywhere in the Netherlands. We hope that many low-literate people will have a positive learning experience and therefore continue to learn. Given the rapid digitalization, it is crucial that everyone continues to develop, especially people with low literacy.’

Naziha de Wit, one of the course participants: ‘My world has become so much bigger. I have always been anxious about new things. But now, since becoming a Language ambassador and learning digital skills I dare to travel alone, for example. Digital skills mean that I can do much more myself; I’m no longer dependent on other people.’

Mark Versteegen, director of the KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds: ‘Because a lack of digital skills is often accompanied by shame, there is a danger of people becoming socially isolated and that’s where loneliness lurks. To counter this precisely problem, we have joined up with the KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds. For more than 12 years, our fund has been committed to bringing people who feel lonely back in touch with society. We are therefore very proud of our collaboration with Stichting Lezen & Schrijven.’

Photo caption:
Jetty Mathurin talks to formerly low-literate Marina Opperdam and Naziha de Wit about digital skills

Photo: Nico Kroon