Red Por un Chile que Lee [Chile Literacy Network] connects more than 100 public and private entities to address the reading crises affecting children

Officially launched in the Hall of Honor of the Central Building of the University of Chile, this collaborative network seeks to urgently move from diagnosis to action.

The pandemic impacted Chilean classrooms, making visible the increasing educational delays and gaps. Reading and writing are some of the most affected skills, which are necessary to function in school, at work and in society at large. Evidence shows that sustained systematic efforts are needed at many levels to reduce these gaps so that all children have the same opportunities to develop reading capacities.

That is why representatives of more than 100 public and private organizations met this Thursday, December 15 in the Hall of Honor of the Central Building of the University of Chile to start the Por Un Chile que Lee campaign, which seeks to help solve the deep literacy crisis through various short- and medium-term actions and a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors.

“The consequences of the pandemic have hit the world’s education systems hard. These effects will have repercussions over the long term if we don’t address this together. As a government, this year we put into place an Education Reactivation Policy, which we will continue to be expanded and strengthened, but this is a nationwide challenge. That is why at the Ministry of Education we are promoting an offensive that dovetails with the campaign we are launching today,” said Education Minister Marco Antonio Ávila.

The Secretary of State presided over the launch ceremony, together with the University of Chile Prorector Alejandra Mizala and CMPC Foundation Director Carolina Andueza, one of the spokespersons of the organizations in the network.

“The University of Chile is delighted to welcome all civil society organizations, universities and the Ministry of Education that are launching the ‘Por un Chile que Lee’ network. We’ll be able to reach every school and family in the country with this campaign, offering opportunities for our children to develop their literacy skills. Reading is one of the cornerstones for acquiring knowledge and developing critical thinking and socio-emotional abilities. It helps us understand the world, opens up our minds and gives wings to the imagination for new creations. We hope that this is a first milestone of many other activities we’ll undertake to put education at the forefront of our efforts,” explained the prorector.

In her speech, Carolina Andueza said, “We‘re very excited about and committed to this launch, which is where we move from diagnosis to action. We know that the figures around children’s literacy are much more critical now after the pandemic. That is why we want to take action collectively so that this vast network in which the government and civil society are part so that our children’s future is significantly enhanced by becoming literate.”

The “Por un Chile que Lee” network started on the initiative of a group of institutions including the CMPC Foundation, the Alma Foundation, the AraucaníAprende Foundation, the Crecer con Todos Foundation, the Hijos Lectores Foundation and the Sara Raier de Rassmus Foundation. Alarmed by the evidence on the delays and gaps in reading and writing, they all joined forces to design a campaign for raising awareness about this problem in order to better address it.

The Ministry of Education also joined the campaign through its Seamos Comunidad [Lets Build Community] Educational Reactivation Policy, together with the CIIL of the University of Los Andes, the School of Government of the Catholic University, and the CIAE of the University of Chile. To date, more than 100 civil society organizations are part of the network.

During the ceremony, Carolina Melo, an academic and researcher at the CIIL of the University of Los Andes, also participated by presenting a literacy study from the University of Los Andes that shows that 96% of 1st grade students do not know the letters of the alphabet. This of course means that they cannot read any of the books that are recommended for their age group.

This presentation gave way to the panel discussion “From diagnosis to action”, in which Carolina Melo, Catalina Opazo from Seamos Comunidad of the Mineduc, Rosita Puga from the EducAraucanía Foundation, and the English educator and creator of the Alfadeca Literacy Program, Alix Anson. Journalist María Luisa Godoy was the panel moderator.

“The World Bank says every child should be able to read by age 10. Understanding the formation of the brain and its basic architecture is what we have to keep in mind regarding our students’ skills development. This is because ‘biological pruning’ typically happens between ages 10 and 11 when lesser-used pathways get cut,” said Alix Anson.

The ceremony started by demonstrating the notion of “yes we can” with a reading of the story “Choco encuentra una mamá” [Choco Finds a Mom] written by the first-grade students of the Elvira Hurtado de Matte Bicentennial School of Quinta Normal. It ended with the signing of the collective commitment of the more than 100 organizations participating in the network, including the Ministry of Education, through Seamos Comunidad.
The Por un Chile que Lee network launched its first joint action on Sunday, December 4 on social networks with several public figures who have voluntarily joined the initiative and representatives of participating organizations, who have called for taking charge of the problem and encouraging reading in families. Interest has been so great that there are nearly 2,000 Instagram followers in less than a month.
After this launch, the network will continue working on new actions for the summer period and heading into the new 2023 school year.