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Fighting digital illiteracy and low literacy
How to counter low literacy and digital illiteracy?

Problem owner: Cubiss
Pitcher: Marjo Frenk, project advisor Cubiss

One in nine people in our society is confronted with low literacy. Because of feelings of shame people are very able at hiding the fact. This makes detection of low literacy and the fight against it difficult. Low literacy can lead to social vulnerability on several fronts, it also increases the chance of digital illiteracy. In a world that is becoming more and more digital, a divide seems to become apparent between those who are able to cope and those who are not. Cubiss is therefore looking for innovative ideas to deal with these issues.


Research shows that the divide between the highly educated and those with less education is growing. (Research study: “Gescheiden werelden?” (Separate worlds?) WRR and SCP, 2014). Higher educated people possess more social skills, are less frequently unemployed, live longer and in better health than people with low education. This causes people with low education to be more vulnerable than people with high education. Low literacy is one of the aspects that causes people to be vulnerable.

One in nine people in our society is confronted with low literacy. Not being able to read and write has a lot of negative consequences, it makes people dependent. From travelling to cooking, in every area problems arise if you are not able to understand information. It creates a handicap and can lead to isolation. People with low literacy are a vulnerable group who relatively often live in poverty.

On top of that we live in a world that is becoming ever more digital, in which people are expected to possess digital skills. In the field of information skills people talk about a new “digital chasm”, a nearly unbridgeable difference in being able to deal with computers and/or internet between and within different user groups. People with low literacy have a 3 times bigger chance at digital illiteracy than someone who isn’t.

Cubiss is making an effort to combat these issues and is trying to get this vulnerable group out of its isolation. As mentioned before, because of the shame people feel they are very able to hide the fact. This makes tracking down and fighting against these problems difficult. There is also not a lot known about the relation between low literacy and digital illiteracy.

This is why Cubiss is looking for innovative ideas that can help to fight these issues.


How to counter low literacy and digital illiteracy so that vulnerability of people decreases?

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