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Education Worldwide


Interview with Isabel Alçada

National Reading Plan - Portugal 

2008-11-4

Isabel Alçada

The National Reading Plan was launched in June 2006 by the Portuguese Government. The programs of the plan have contributed to engage teachers and educators in reading activities within classrooms, covering all Portuguese schools from Kindergarten to 9th grade. Municipalities’ initiatives, developed mainly by public libraries, in collaborative work with schools designed to stimulate independent reading. Training programs of teacher and educators association’s designed to engage professionals in reading initiatives that encourage the pleasure of reading amongst children and young people.



Are there any officially educational goals of reading promotion in your country?   
The National Reading Plan was launched in June 2006 by the Portuguese Government – Ministries of Education, Culture and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs - to promote reading in schools, as well as in public libraries and other social organizations.
The main goals of the National Reading Plan are the development of skills in reading and writing, as well as the broadening and deepening of reading habits, considering reading as an essential element in individual development and national progress. These goals have been implemented through a set of strategies designed to cover the entire population, from infancy to adulthood, but especially among school populations.
For schools the National Reading Plan officially has set the following main goals for reading promotion: one hour per day reading in class for preschool education (children from 3-5 years) and reading and writing for primary schools (1- 4Th grades of basic education) and 50 minutes per week reading and writing activities in 5-9th grades; to develop educational practices and other activities stimulating pleasure in reading amongst students; to create instruments enabling the definition of increasingly more precise targets for the development of reading; to consolidate and increase the role of school libraries in partnership with public libraries in the development of reading habits; to gradually achieve better results in national and international assessment of literacy.

Is reading promotion mainly an element of native-language class or do you have any explicit classes for reading promotion?  
Reading promotion in schools is mainly developed by teachers within classroom work and school activities and also by school libraries. Different projects and events have been launched in schools to stimulate independent reading for and the pleasure of reading as reading weeks, reading championships and games; book fairs; commemorative days – poetry day, world book day, international children’s book day, etc.
A pilot project designed to create a whole-school reading environment was recently launched in Portuguese schools, in collaboration with Reading Connects – National Reading Trust, UK. It encourages schools to embed a holistic creative approach to promoting reading for pleasure into their policies and practice.

Have you got any experience concerning the promotion of reading with children of low income families? Which kind of measures would you recommend?
We launched a program in kindergartens and primary schools designed to encourage families in reading promotion in partnership with parent associations. Low income families are especially encouraged to join the initiatives. Another program distributes books to each child starting primary education, along with very simple illustrated booklets for parents, concerning family reading promotion.
We give special support to schools located in disadvantaged environments to help book acquisition. But we do not encourage projects specifically designated for low income groups, because children of low income families are in the same classes and in the same schools as other children.

Would you please give a brief description (about 5 sentences) of the main focus of activities of your organization?   
The National Reading Plan is the government initiative designed to stimulate reading promotion within the school system. Our main activities are the following:

Technical orientation and advice concerning book selection for different group ages and reading activities within the classroom for different educational levels provided in our official site and published in booklets.

Budget provision for school libraries’ acquisition of different types of books (fiction, poetry, drama and science books) magazines, internet resources, to be used in classroom reading and writing activities and to promote independent reading.

Launching of a wide range of initiatives and events designed to encourage schools to promote reading opportunities and independent reading in partnership with families, publishers and bookshops, foundations, private and public organizations and the media.

Support of public libraries and local associations initiatives concerning reading promotion.

Projects in health centers and hospitals in partnership with doctors’ and nurses’ associations, and with public and private sponsorship.

Campaigns concerning the advantages of reading, including advertising in the media and spots production in partnership with the national TV broadcast (RTP). Launching of studies on reading promotion and assessment of reading projects, including external evaluation of our initiatives impact.

Which measures of the promotion of reading addressed to pupils by organizations of your country do you consider especially effective?   
National Reading Plan programs have contributed to engage teachers and educators in reading activities within classrooms, in an each day or an each week basis, covering all Portuguese schools from Kindergarten to 9th grade.

Municipalities’ initiatives, developed mainly by public libraries, in collaborative work with schools designed to stimulate independent reading.

Training programs of teacher and educators association’s designed to engage professionals in reading initiatives that encourage the pleasure of reading amongst children and young people.

The National Reading Plan is preparing a project designed to stimulate peer reading and engagement of volunteer adults in reading promotion in schools, but it will only to be launched in January 2009.

Interview: Andrea Steinbrecher, Stiftung Lesen


See also: Promoting Reading in Portugal

 
 

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