Most of the Dutch sample consisted of clients from the social service in Emmen. The other (smaller) part consists of a special target group: male-only prisons. The employees of the organisations say that shame and avoidance behaviour play a (major) role in both target groups, which are significantly different from each other. The majority of respondents are of Dutch descent and have Dutch as their mother tongue. Shame at their poor literacy skills is particularly evident in the native Dutch-speaking group.
Important obstacles that respondents have experienced in improving their education and/or work situation include low Dutch language skills, age, the costs of training and a lack of self-confidence. The Dutch approach responds to this by means of accessible, low-threshold and customised language education.
A number of characteristics of the participants struck us in particular: 60 per cent of the participants feel more or less in control of their lives. This is striking given that participants are in detention or unemployed. The target group also identifies itself as (very) keen to learn. However, in practice, they are often not open to taking language lessons. This is discussed further in chapters 9 and 10. When looking at the highest education level completed, it struck us that twelve per cent of participants have completed a university or university of applied sciences education. This is quite high compared to the results of the Dutch PIAAC study on this behalf, which indicate that 4.8 per cent of low literate adults in the Netherlands are highly educated (tertiary education). Perhaps our finding confirms that the Literacy Screener only gives an indication of low literacy and additional investigation of the individuals’ literacy skills is necessary before drawing firm conclusions about their abilities.
The pilot organisations provide different types of services: from reintegration and day care for adults who are at a large distance from the labour market, to detention. The clients who make use of these services vary in age, background and level of knowledge. One of the objectives of GOAL in the Netherlands is to identify more people with low literacy. To achieve this, screening is being started in different organisations where addressing low literacy is not the main objective. Although the Dutch GOAL project focuses on one problem (low literacy), the target group can vary in terms of background characteristics.