Engaging Families in Literacy and Learning – UIL Policy Brief 9

  • June 2017

Although they are often overlooked by policymakers, intergenerational approaches to literacy and learning have huge potential across a range of agendas and particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable families.

Research evidence reveals the considerable benefits of family learning for both children and adults. Fostering a culture of learning within the family can help prevent school failure and drop-out among children while helping parents in ensuring their children are school-ready and supporting them with their homework. The desire of parents to better support their children at school is often a critical motivator for them in re-engaging with learning.

In this way, family learning overcomes the barriers between home, school and community, breaks the intergenerational cycle of low education and literacy skills, and thus helps address the persistent challenges of disadvantage, inequality and exclusion.

To promote family learning, and to inspire and support policymakers in realizing its potential to tackle literacy and other educational challenges faced by disadvantaged families and communities, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) has published a new policy brief, Engaging Families in Literacy and Learning. Offering an analysis of the values and benefits of family literacy and learning, the policy brief advocates family learning as a holistic strategy to be integrated across early childhood/pre-school/primary education, adult education and community education. This approach shows the transformative power of family learning that can help achieve a range of important targets, across the full spectrum of the Sustainable Development Goals. Further, the policy brief proposes the following five policy recommendations based on an analysis of successful family learning programmes:

  • Use a ‘whole family’ approach to address literacy challenges.
  • Focus on the creation of literate environments.
  • Promote cooperation using flexible funding streams and reporting approaches.
  • Link literacy and learning to other services for disadvantaged families.
  • Use family literacy and learning to break the intergenerational cycle of low education levels.

This policy brief complements the recently launched resource, Learning Together Across Generations: Guideline for Family Literacy and Learning Programmes. Together, they offer critical support to stakeholders in Member States in successfully piloting family literacy and learning programmes and in realizing their very significant, but still largely untapped, potential. For further information or technical support, please contact: uil-lbs@unesco.org.



Engaging Families in Literacy and Learning – UIL Policy Brief 9 (PDF, 0.2MB)


Related Publication: 
Learning Together Across Generations: Launch of a new UIL publication on family literacy and learning
  • Author/Editor: UIL
  • Engaging Families in Literacy and Learning – UIL Policy Brief 9
  • UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning - 2017
  • Available in: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese