Since its formation as the United Kingdom Reading Association in 1964, UKLA has been affiliated to the International Reading Association (IRA), renamed the International Literacy Association (ILA) in 2015. This is based in Newark, Delaware, USA, with over 90 affiliated national associations spread all over the world. This number continues to increase, with recent expansion mainly concentrated in countries from the former Soviet Union. ILA is recognised as an important international body by a number of government and international organisations. For example the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is working with ILA to spread information about the PISA international survey of 15 year olds’ ‘reading literacy’.
With the help of ILA members working as volunteers, UNESCO is working in partnership with ILA on far-reaching programmes to enhance teacher education in developing countries. Regular communication with the ILA keeps us in UKLA informed of what our sister associations are doing, giving us ideas for moving our association forward. Much of this is done through ILA’s International Development in Europe Committee (IDEC). The ILA also co-ordinates some large externally funded projects such as Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking (RWCT) in which a number of UKLA members have been active participants. Supported by the Soros Foundation, this project has operated in many parts of the former Soviet Union, involving both ILA volunteers from developed countries and local personnel, usually at University Lecturer level, in substantial training courses to sharpen the critical focus of their countries’ literacy teaching. Find out more at http://www.reading.org