Connections with the rest of Europe
UKLA is a founder member of FELA, the Federation of European Literacy Associations, and a key member of the International Literacy Association’s International Development in Europe Committee (IDEC), which brings together all ILA’s international partners (national affiliates) on this continent.
FELA and IDEC form a Janus-like structure: the members of both are roughly 30 national literacy/reading associations across Europe, plus Israel. IDEC has been the European section of the ILA for over 30 years, but as a sub-committee of an organisation registered in the United States has always lacked the right to apply for European Union funding; it constituted itself also as FELA in 2008 to remedy that. FELA is registered in Belgium and has ‘legal personality’; as such it was successful in 2013 in bidding to become a partner within Elinet (see the adjacent panel) and, once all accounts have been ratified, will have received just over €17,000 from the EU for its involvement (and made a self- contribution of about €5,000).
FELA/IDEC acts as a forum for the exchange of practice and ideas. It holds twice-yearly meetings, usually combined with seminars for local teachers, and the European Conference on Literacy every two years. In July 2015, the University of Klagenfurt in southern Austria was the venue for the 19th such conference, on the theme of Literacy in the New Landscape of Communication: Research and the Everyday, a lively and well-attended affair; the 20th conference will be held in Madrid in July 2017.
The (late) Gwen Bray was instrumental in setting IDEC up, and was its founding Chairperson, and two other UKR/LA Presidents have also chaired the committee: Alastair Hendry and Greg Brooks. Within FELA, Henrietta Dombey served as Treasurer in 2012-16, and Greg Brooks as Chairperson in 2013-17.
IDEC has made many awards for innovative projects over the years – see the IDEC website. In 2012-14 FELA made its first research grant to a team in Crete led by Dr Popi Kassotaki-Psaroudaki. Their report, ‘A distance education course: Professional development regarding the instructional approach of informational texts in preschool education’, will appear on the FELA website.