Conscription plan to combat illiteracy

1st March 1996 at 00:00
The use of national service conscripts to teach reading and writing, the introduction of a regular "reading for pleasure" session at school and action in prisons and unemployment centres are among the latest proposals to combat illiteracy.

The report, commissioned by prime minister Alain Juppe, was presented by Pierre Lequiller, who is chairman of an illiteracy campaign as well as member of parliament and mayor of Louvecinnes.

"Illiteracy is very serious and widespread in France, and the response of society and the public authorities to it is largely insufficient," said M Lequiller.

He said it made life more difficult for the unemployed, and was associated with many other factors of exclusion, creating a cultural disparity which can have repercussions from generation to generation.

According to surveys carried out by the education and defence ministries, one French person in five is unable to read or to understand a text of 70 words (their criterion for defining illiteracy).

France pulled out of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study into reading proficiency, the results of which were published in December, when it appeared to be trailing badly in an international comparison.

This study found 40 per cent of French people to be "functionally illiterate", lacking the basic reading skills necessary for daily life, such as reading a bus timetable.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today