Portugal

João Marôco
Instituto de Avaliação Educativa, I.P.

Language and Literacy

Portuguese is the language of instruction for all public schools in the national education system, with the exception of a few private schools that do not follow the Portuguese curricula (about 0.5 percent of the 2 million students enrolled in the 2013–2014 school year).1 Portuguese is, according to UNESCO, the eighth most spoken language in the world, being used by about 200 million people.2 In Portugal, literature has a centuries-long tradition, with world famous writers such as Luís Vaz de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, and José Saramago, the 1998 Nobel laureate in literature, among many others. In recent years, reading literacy has received much attention with the 1996 deployment of the nationwide School Libraries Network Program, a joint initiative of the Ministries of Education and Culture aimed at installing and developing libraries in public schools and providing students with the necessary resources for reading in all formats and media.3 In 2007, the National Reading Plan was launched with the main objective of raising Portugal’s level of reading literacy to that of other European countries, in order to ensure all citizens are able to comprehend the written words they encounter in their daily lives, interpret information from the media, access scientific research, and enjoy literature.4