25 March 2024, by Emily Proctor

The city of Amsterdam wants to make sure that all schools – primary schools, secondary schools and vocational schools – are equipped with a library so that young people can have adequate opportunities to read. The plans were announced last week in the new “Love for Reading” plan, unveiled by the alderman for the municipality. 

Reading rates in the Netherlands are on the decline

The new plan comes at a time when young people in the Netherlands are scoring poorly on reading and literacy tests, and the government is keen to improve the reading skills of Dutch school students. The Netherlands’ literacy rate has even deteriorated compared to just a few years ago, according to the latest results of research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

According to the research, which categorises students’ reading abilities into six different groups, one-third of Dutch students do not meet the required standard of literacy for functioning well within society on a daily basis.

Young people up to age 27 should be able to borrow free books

As part of the plan, the municipality also wants to help young people who have already left school improve their literacy skills. One of the ways in which the plan wants to address this is by allowing young people up to the age of 27 to borrow books from the library for free, without having to pay for a monthly or annual subscription. 

Currently, library passes are available for those up to age 18 to access books without cost, but the plan seeks to lengthen the validity of this free library by almost a decade to encourage young adults to continue reading. The library pass will also be free for teachers, as in the words of one school reading coordinator: “You get a love for reading by doing it. So I think it is very important that teachers can also convey this by reading themselves,” she told NOS.

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