Snippet: National reading programs (Portugal, Spain)

logo extendido del PFL

Thinking education and culture as axis of government implicates the assumption of reading as a political priority, taking this competence as basic for the plural access to knowledge and cultural enrichment – indispensable for the exercise of an active citizenship and the economic and social development of the country. This scope, the extended domain of the reading competence and seen as a fundamental condition for the construction and consolidation of a free society, with social cohesion, democratic access to information, to knowledge, and cultural creation and enjoyment. …

This is a new edition of the Portuguese national reading program already in place between 2006 and 2016. After evaluating the experience so far, the government saw the need to keep up the struggle.

To accomplish this goal, this new stage of the PNL [national reading plan] for 2017-2027 (PNL 2027) ought to support and foster programs especially directed to favour social integration through reading  in different forms; the formation of different segments of the population – children, juveniles and adults; the inclusion of persons with special needs; the articulated development of a scientific, literary and artistic culture; and access to knowledge and culture through the use of information and communication technologies. In the ambit of its attributions, and in fulfillment of the government program, the local authorities of culture, science, technology and superior teaching and education are asked to develop an integrated policy for the promotion of reading, writing and multiple literacies, namely cultural, scientific and digital. To this end, we directly tender [?] the Programa de Promoção da Leitura [Reading promotion program], the Rede de Centros de Ciência Viva [Live science centers network], the Rede Nacional de Bibliotecas Públicas [National public libraries network], the Rede de Bibliotecas Escolares [School libraries network] and the libraries of the higher education institutions. …

The Portuguese government’s website includes a number of extended reading lists, e.g. one with Portuguese and international classics, and one with English-language books for secondary-school students and adult readers.

The Spanish government also has got a reading fostering program in place for 2017-2020, but it doesn’t sound as ambitious as the Portuguese one; although there is a national ministry of education, culture and sports, “culture” is a competence of the autonomous regions that often prefer to “do their own thing” without consulting with Madrid or the other regions.

While any effort to foster reading should be welcomed, neither the Portuguese nor the Spanish government seem to put “real” money behind the professed effort; at least the official statements don’t mention any figures…

Update: According to El Mundo, the Spanish one is endowed with 7.2M EUR for 2017 (a total of 28.3M EUR until 2020); the previous one of 2006 (!) was endowed with 38M EUR – public libaries hope to get some of this money to renew their stocks as their budgets have been “frozen” since 2012.

SOURCE: Government of Portugal [consulted April 26, 2017]; Government of Spain (illustration)

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