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NZ Adult Literacy Strategy Released

7 May 2001 Media Statement


A strategy to provide a comprehensive, long-term approach to improving adult literacy has been launched today by the government.

The Associate Minister of Education, Marian Hobbs, who has responsibility for adult and community education, said too many New Zealanders lack the essential reading, writing and problem solving skills to succeed in life and work.

"The 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey said one in five adult New Zealanders had very poor literacy skills," Marian Hobbs said. "These skills are a vital ingredient for citizenship, participating in the community and having a sense of belonging."

The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, said the Adult Literacy Strategy will complement intensive work already underway to improve the literacy and numeracy of school-aged children.

The ALS outlines the long-term approach under three key goals:

- increasing opportunities for adult literacy learning;

- developing the capability of adult literacy providers to deliver high quality education; and

- improving quality systems to ensure that adult literacy teaching programmes in New Zealand are world class.

The Strategy says long-term, all New Zealanders should enjoy a level of literacy which enables them to participate fully in all aspects of life, including work, family and the community, and to have the opportunity to achieve literacy in English and Te Reo Maori.

Marian Hobbs said concentration in the first two or three years will be on building quality systems, and improving the capability of the adult literacy sector.

She paid tribute to the efforts of the modern adult literacy movement over the past 30 years.

Trevor Mallard said that when elected in 1999 the Labour Alliance coalition government recognised that more was needed to improve adult literacy.

"The launch of this Strategy signals a change in policy and direction with a more hands-on approach from the Government," he added. "But the role of community organisations will remain crucial in helping those who do not participate in more formal learning.

"There will be a clearer leadership role for the Government through the Ministry of Education. It will provide overall direction and strategic planning and co-ordinate the development and promulgation of standards and best practice models to underpin new quality assurance systems.

"The Ministry of Education will be appointing an Adult Literacy Chief Adviser shortly to take responsibility for the implementation of the strategy."
The Adult Literacy Strategy will be available on the Ministry of Education's website: www.minedu.govt.nz after 5.30pm today.


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