Phonics: the wider picture

The importance of literacy

Throughout the developed world therefore governments are giving great priority to literacy and are asking schools to ensure that children reach certain standards of reading achievement. In England, for example, this is manifest in the ever-increasing targets set for the number of children reaching the expected reading level for their age group as measured by national tests.

In America the No child left behind legislation focuses on literacy teaching and pupil literacy achievement, again measuring children’s performance with state-administered tests.

In Australia the government has recently concluded a National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (DEST, 2004) and has called for higher standards of literacy through a set of “National Goals”. In the developed world, ensuring high levels of literacy is a priority and there are ambitious plans to support the developing world in achieving the same goal.

The United Nations has made the pledge that by 2015 all the world’s children will complete primary schooling and UNESCO has nominated 2003-2012 as the United Nations’ Literacy Decade. Literacy is recognized not only as important for the personal development and life chances of individuals but also as vital to the spiritual, cultural and economic wellbeing of nations.