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Inspiring kids to read and write

The Swedish school is in a state of crisis. A shocking result of decreasing reading skills among fifteen-year-olds in the international Pisa report created a national debate in 2014. At our Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet a feeling grew that just reporting this was not enough. As a result, a new website was launched to inspire young people to read and to give teachers practical tools.

What happens if you grow up without learning to read and write? This is a question that Swedes really have not had to worry about for centuries. But along with the Pisa report came an awakening. Our schools have not been able to teach the pupils the most basic skills that should provide for a solid start in life. This is what the Pisa report showed:

  • The results for Swedish fifteen- year-olds in mathematics and natural science have fallen most of all the countries in the report
  • Only one country had fallen more in reading skills
  • From a result above the OECD-average in Pisa year 2000, Sweden is now far below in all three above areas.
  • Never before had the result of Swedish pupils fallen this much
  • The gap between underachievers and overachievers had grown dramatically.

For a newspaper this is an alarming story to follow and investigate. It is also a bit worrying to consider the possibility of the next generation not being able to take in our information. But it is also connected to the core of our mission – to work for an open and democratic society and to empower our readers with news and opinions.

For this you need to be able to read, write and do maths.

SvD’s ambition was to make something concrete; something that could actually be of help right now for schools, parents, grandparents and pupils.

After speaking to teachers and pupils SvD launched the Läs- och skriv site (Read and Write). The site provides teachers, parents, and pupils with useful tools to stimulate interest in reading and writing and to support teaching.

Inspirational guides to books are published regularly along with stories on schools working with successful methods and links to current debates on educational issues.

The site also contains guides to journalism for teachers to use in the classroom – something that is much in demand.

– Our aim is to help teachers in their everyday work and to inspire pupils. If we can contribute something towards raising young people’s self-esteem and motivating them academically, we will have moved a step closer to reaching that goal, says Gunilla Asker, CEO at Svenska Dagbladet.

– It feels good to share our knowledge in this way, says Fredric Karén, Editor in Chief. Reading comprehension is the basis of all learning. Reading widely and often enhances your ability to view issues from different perspectives, to have the confidence and ability to participate in debates and express your opinion. This is important for all pupils, both now and in the future.

SvD editor in chief Fredric Karén together with CEO Gunilla Asker.

SvD editor in chief Fredric Karén together with CEO Gunilla Asker.