Many children love to read. / migue fernández

Extra reading to be compulsory in schools in Andalucía from September

An extra two and a half hours will be included in the curriculum at primary and junior schools in an attempt to enhance pupil performance

FRANCISCO GUTIÉRREZ Malaga

At playtime Clara, Daniela, Laura and Nerea head for the library at their primary school, the Eduardo Ocón in Malaga, and spend some time reading their favourite books, which are generally adventure and fantasy stories. Other groups of pupils also arrive with their teacher, to do the same. Reading, say experts, is the basic foundation of learning.

“Some children start their first year at secondary school and they can barely read. They have to follow the words with their finger,” said Toñi Vallejo, who teaches Language and Literature at the Politécnico Jesús Marín secondary school. Basic comprehension is also essential, says José Luis Marín, a teacher at the adult education centre in Malaga. “You have to understand what you read, or it's a waste of time,” he adds.

For this reason, the Andalusian Ministry of Education has decided to include two and a half hours a week of reading in the curriculum for primary and secondary schools in the region from the start of the 2023-2024 educational year.

"Many failures at school could be prevented," says minister

Minister Patricia del Pozo said recently that many academic failures could be prevented if pupils read enough, and that the extra half an hour of reading a day will not have to be during language and literature classes. Each school will be able to organise its own schedule, she said.

Schools will be provided with resources and advice on how to implement the scheme in June.

“Reading is one of the most powerful tools to improve our pupils’ performance. On many occasions they fail exams because they don’t understand what they are being asked, and that is directly related to reading comprehension,” Del Pozo said.

The most recent report into reading comprehension in Spain (in 2016) placed the level in Andalucía second to last in the country.