Center for Language Studies new ally in the fight against illiteracy

Date of news: 24 November 2020

The Center for Language Studies joined the Alliance for low literacy region Nijmegen on Monday 23 November. The Alliance is committed to combat low literacy in the region. ‘We can only achieve something if we join forces.’

As many as 2.5 million people in the Netherlands aged 16 and older are low literate: they have difficulty with reading, writing, doing math and/or digital skills. In the Rijk van Nijmegen region, the alliance for low literacy (Bondgenootschap Laaggeletterheid regio Nijmegen) was therefore established, with the aim of promoting reading and writing in the Nijmegen region and breaking the taboo on low literacy. More than thirty partners - the municipality of Nijmegen, regional municipalities and various public and private institutions - have now joined the Covenant Alliance for Low Literacy 2018-2022. Since Monday, the Center for Language Studies (CLS) research institute of Radboud University has also joined the Alliance.

Mirjam Ernestus signs the Alliance against low literacy

Contribution CLS

By signing the agreement, CLS expresses its willingness to actively contribute to the prevention and combating of low literacy, says Mirjam Ernestus, research director of CLS. ‘We also see that low literacy is a major problem in society. For example, recent research has shown that 15- and 16-year-olds are reading worse than their peers a few years ago. That is very worrying.’

CLS will primarily provide research expertise to the group. Ernestus: ‘We already do a lot of research into understandable language. For example in the field of communication between doctor and patient. But we are also investigating how understandable language can contribute to more safety in the workplace or how spelling rules can be better taught.’


CLS is keen to make a difference with the knowledge that the researchers are developing. ‘We have the expertise, people in the field have good ideas for where that expertise can be applied’, explains Ernestus. ‘At the same time we can also conduct research if there is an issue raised in the alliance. The main intention is to work together. Because we can only achieve something against low literacy if we join forces.’