In the Netherlands, the client satisfaction survey was completed by 75 of the 76 clients of whom monitoring data is available. Three quarters of the participants reported that they now know (somewhat) better what they need to learn. Conversely, a quarter of the participants do not think that the Literacy Screener has provided any insight. This is in line with the findings of the municipality of Emmen that many clients do not agree with the unsatisfactory result from the Literacy Screener.
After the discussion about the outcome of the Literacy Screener, the majority of the 75 participants who have completed the client satisfaction survey know (a little) about where they can enrol for language lessons and what else they can do next. This is in line with the results from the data monitoring questionnaire which indicates the development of a personal action plan and being informed about what can be studied and where are the most frequently occurring results of the session.
A small majority of the participants (six out of every ten) said that they are going to use the tips from the client manager. In practice, the percentage of clients going on to a language course after an unsatisfactory score on the Literacy Screener is a little lower in the three organisations from which the client satisfaction data comes. The follow-up interviews with service users confirm this.
Of the fourteen service users interviewed, the majority found the process of taking the Literacy Screener and the discussion about the findings to be a positive experience. They recognised the usefulness of the Literacy Screener and/or found taking the Literacy Screener interesting, and they appreciate the fact that in the discussion about the findings, a clear and positive explanation was given of the guidance available. However, most of them did not start language lessons, because they were too busy or because they did not see their usefulness, because they feel they can manage perfectly well without them.
Strengths and achievements
All four pilot organisations think that the Literacy Screener is a good screening tool and want to continue to use it, because it offers added value for their services. The insight into the client’s language skills, which comes about by means of the Literacy Screener, helps the organisations tailor their services to their clients’ needs.
Aksept is the only organisation where all participants with an unsatisfactory score on the Literacy Screener have gone on to start a language course. In Aksept, there are even participants with a satisfactory score on the Literacy Screener who have received additional guidance in this area. According to the organisation, the language lessons lead to improved language skills, mainly because the language lessons are very practical. In PI Achterhoek, 30 per cent of the prisoners with an unsatisfactory score on the Literacy Screener have gone on to start language lessons. The organisation has seen rapid advances made by clients during the one-to-one sessions with language volunteers. Although the flow into language lessons in the municipality of Emmen is virtually zero, they do achieve success on a small scale with people for whom Dutch is not the native language. Interviews with professionals and clients demonstrate that these people would like to take language lessons in order to improve their chances of (specific) work.
Although too few interviews have been conducted to be able to say anything certain about this, the follow-up interviews are a first indication that the accessibility of language courses (individual and taught by a volunteer) is appreciated by service users. The policy maker at PI Achterhoek echoed this.
Challenges and barriers
The municipality of Emmen is facing the basic difficulty that clients who are native Dutch speakers are not willing to enrol for language lessons. The main reasons for this that come out of the follow-up survey are that clients are too busy and/or that they have never wanted to take language lessons.
The original idea was that client managers, who offer guidance to social service clients with regard to employment, would conduct the discussion about the Literacy Screener outcome. They see their clients on a regular basis and build a relationship of trust with them. In practice, however, client managers are not involved, because tackling low literacy has no priority for them. Their objective is the outflow into work, and most social service clients can get a job for which their poor language skills are not directly an obstacle. The follow-up survey indicates that the clients themselves also prioritise work over improving their language skills. Furthermore, most service users do not see the added value of language lessons. Taking language lessons is too distant from people; in their opinion, they speak excellent Dutch and they do not see how a Dutch language course could improve or make their life and participation in society any easier.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the municipality of Emmen is the only pilot organisation deploying the Literacy Screener in a group setting. In such a situation, clients can experience feelings of insecurity and shame in the event of an unsatisfactory score