Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks
Implications for future programme development
The Netherlands’ approach to GOAL differs radically from the approaches of the other partner countries. The diffused nature of GOAL in the Netherlands means that the programme is particularly dependent on the establishment of strong partnerships, with partners themselves administering the Literacy Screener and then referring potential clients on to another organisation. Whereas in other countries GOAL is a discrete service that works with partners, in the Netherlands GOAL is more of a process distributed across a network of organisations. This has clear implications for programme development: partners must be convinced of the benefits of contributing to GOAL, despite the administrative and other burdens this creates for themselves.
For the penitentiary institutions, both internal and external cooperation are important: internal cooperation to ensure that detainees with an indication of low literacy enter a suitable language course, and external cooperation to continue support in this area outside the penitentiary institution. The latter still requires attention at both penitentiary institutions. The internal cooperation can also still be improved at one penitentiary institution; see chapter 8 for more about this.
Implications of policy
In the Netherlands, the education funds are decentralised to municipalities. This creates the willingness locally to set up and improve the approach and collaboration. As part of the decentralised approach, language points form the axis of local networks. The interviews showed that language points are an important success factor for a well-functioning network.
Implications for policy
Because of the diffused nature of GOAL in the Netherlands, policy support may be particularly important. By encouraging and supporting GOAL activities across a range of partners, policy may help GOAL to better establish itself, and thus to contribute to broader policy objectives. It is notable that, in general, the Netherlands has a strong policy focus on improving literacy and numeracy skills, and GOAL is seen as contributing to this policy.
A well-functioning network requires commitment from all parties involved. First of all, there needs to be a commitment from municipalities due to their subsidising role. There must therefore be at least one person within the municipal council who explicitly feels they are the owner of the low literacy problem. To support sustainability, this ownership should be part of the job role.