Language disadvantage for life: a growing group of young people leave school with low literacy

Read a letter from the government, draft a CV without errors, understand what is in the newspaper; a growing group of Dutch people have difficulty with this because they do not have sufficient command of the Dutch language. New research by the Reading & Writing Foundation shows that 34 to 44 percent of cleaners, assistants in construction, industry and agriculture and kitchen aids are low-literate.

The Education Inspectorate finds that students perform less well on core subjects of language and arithmetic. A growing group of young people even comes from school with low literacy. This is a very worrying development, because it reduces the chance of work or further education. The Lower House will debate on Thursday about the approach to low literacy.

Verb conjugations

“The Kofschip? I really have never heard of that. The d's and t's, I was always guessing.” The 29-year-old Petra Deltenre receives extra Dutch lessons during her MBO level-2 training 'service helping plus'. Because Petra has great difficulty with language. Together with Dutch teacher Astrid Eilert, she practices verb conjugations, formulating a sentence and writing a report.

Asking for help with language problems is not easy, Petra knows. “To admit that you have trouble with something is quite difficult. I was born and raised here in the Netherlands. Why should a Dutch girl not even be able to write, talk or name decent Dutch?

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