Fluent reading skills are required in all professions. The target of “Sanat haltuun” (Words matter) project, supported by UPM and organised by the Finnish Reading Centre, is to inspire students of technical vocational schools to read and improve their reading skills. In addition, UPM together with the Reading Centre want to develop operating models to improve students’ reading skills in the future. The aim is also to stimulate discussion and raise awareness on the reading skills of young students in vocational schools.
The Finnish Reading Centre will organise 100 functional literacy workshops to students of technical vocational schools all around Finland. In addition to the Reading Centre, Finnish language teachers of vocational schools, authors and researchers will participate in the planning of the workshops. The project of one year and a half will begin in the autumn of 2016.
”The Finnish Reading Centre has a vast national network and long experience of organising author visits and literacy workshops. The author visits and the functional workshops in particular have been perceived as good means to inspire children and young people to read. UPM’s support is crucial and we are very pleased about this co-operation”, says Ilmi Villacís, Executive Director of the Finnish Reading Centre.
Students need fluent reading skills
”In today’s work life, everybody needs to continuously learn new things. There are new ways of working, new machinery and new standards. If reading is slow or inconvenient, it is difficult to develop one’s competencies. With the project, UPM wants to support the development of text skills of students in technical fields. The Finnish Reading Centre, which operates nationwide, has excellent means to take up the challenge,” says Pirkko Harrela, Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM.
Research shows that one in ten young people have poor reading skills. The difference between girls and boys has increased in Finland – unlike in many other countries participating in the PISA survey. Therefore, work is needed in order to improve boys’ reading skills. There is a risk that the boys’ poor reading skills limit their lives, and prevent them from succeeding in their studies and in working life.
UPM has a literacy project also in Germany in in conjunction with the Reading Centre’s sister organisation German Stiftung Lesen (German Reading Foundation). There UPM supports the development of reading skills among refugee children.
“We are concerned with literacy of young people and we want to increase awareness of the importance of reading and continuous learning. Photos and videos are an important part of young people’s lives, but things are just easier if you can also understand texts fluently and write your thoughts to others at the work place,” says Harrela.
“Sanat haltuun” project is part of UPM’s ”Biofore Share and Care” programme. The programme focuses on projects that are relevant to both UPM’s business and responsibility goals. The focus areas are: Reading & Learning, Engaging with communities, Responsible water use and Boosting bioinnovations.