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Illiteracy – an alarming scourge that can be overcome

Far from being a marginal phenomenon, illiteracy affects 2.5 million people in France, or 7% of the population between 18 and 65, according to statistics published by the National Anti-Illiteracy Agency (ANLCI). Unlike illiteracy in the strict sense, which concerns people who have never benefited from schooling, functional illiteracy is a problem that afflicts people who have been educated but not enough to master reading, writing or arithmetic. Over time, these shortcomings worsen to become a real social and professional handicap, often surrounded by a taboo that traumatises sufferers.

Illiteracy – an alarming scourge that can be overcome

According to a recent CSA survey, this situation is particularly common in the maintenance and cleaning sectors, where 67% of organisations have already encountered employees with reading or writing problems, and also in personal services (60%). However, no sectors are spared by this scourge since half of all organisations in France are affected by illiteracy. Its manifestations include difficulties in understanding instructions, which automatically increases physical and psychological occupational risks.

CAA’s involvement

In an attempt to halt the progression of this phenomenon, the #STOPILLETTRISME association was created in 2013 to combat workplace illiteracy and promote access to reading, writing and basic skills for all employees. This association, which now includes a network of highly committed companies, has set up an innovative mentoring scheme, which is run by volunteer employees who support illiterate people with their training and thus improve their chances of success. As part of a partnership signed with the #STOPILLETTRISME association, Crédit Agricole Assurances has been rolling out this strategy since 2017 for the benefit of people employed by its cleaning service provider GSF. In this way, over a ten-month period, the CAA volunteer staff provide support for GSF employees who are enrolled on a training course designed to improve their French language skills, which leads to a recognised diploma. The tutors’ role is to provide additional support adapted to the personal needs of the cleaning staff following the training.

Some 40 employees have volunteered to be tutors and about 15 GSF employees have benefited from the program.

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