Illiteracy still affects half a million Portuguese – 370,000 of them under the age of 65

Gone is the notion that illiteracy is an impediment of Portugal’s past.

According to Jornal de Notícias, there are 500,000 nationals who cannot read or write, and only a fraction of them are over the age of 65.

Worse, the government is aware of the problem but hasn’t any kind of strategy for sorting it out.

Says JN, hope lies with a Porto-based project which could be replicated throughout the country.

APEFA, the association for adult training and education, is launching the scheme next month, under the title: “Journeys in Citizenship – Literacy Support”.

Explains the association president Armando Loureiro, the initiative is open to “everyone in this situation but particularly those that are under retirement age”.

JN adds that this includes people as young as in their mid-30s, whose “dream” it is to simply be able to write their own name, in full, in “normal letters, without being helped”.

The pilot-project will start with two groups of 10 people, says the paper, and then be “evaluated” before it is replicated to the rest of the country.

As Loureiro stressed, illiteracy is “a very serious problem that the country continues to have”, despite the fact that numbers have obviously fallen since the 1970s (when Portugal emerged from years of hardship and lack of opportunities under a dictatorship).

Gonçalo Xufre, of the national agency for professional education, agrees that “the country has failed to face this (issue) as a large problem”, but told JN that plans are afoot to “reach this (section of the) population, even though nothing yet has been formulated”.

A source for the education ministry also told JN that the government’s Plan for National Reforms will also focus on “measures to give flexibility to programmes for basic competences”, though “nothing further was specified”, the paper adds.

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