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Opening The Book On Adult Literacy

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced the development of a comprehensive Adult Literacy Strategy to parallel the Government's literacy and numeracy goals for children, in a speech to the Workbase Forum on International Literacy Day.

"Adult Literacy is as important to our economy as it is to our social fabric. It is no coincidence that around half of all unemployed people have low literacy abilities, and the situation in our prisons is even worse. To reduce both unemployment and crime rates we need a comprehensive literacy strategy. We have taken major steps to improve our children's literacy, and it is now timely to do the same for adults."

The Adult Literacy Strategy will involve developing clear measures of adult literacy as well as developing strategies that will improve adult literacy in the workplace and the wider community. The first phase will include further research, defining measures and indicators to be included in a consultation document which will be published in February next year. The response to the consultation document will be fed into the Enterprise Education Taskforce for report to Government by 30 June 2000.

"The development of this strategy parallels the Books in Prisons Trust pilot, launched today by the Prime Minister at Mt Eden Women's Prison in Auckland. We need to come up with a flexible strategy that will compliment the wide range of community initiatives to assist children with their reading and writing."

"The commitment to develop the strategy is just the first step. We need to get the research, do the consultation and implement the programmes to ensure that New Zealanders are the most literate people in the world. A literate society is more prosperous, more democratic, more informed, more independent and more confident. It is the sort of nation we need to commit ourselves to as we face the 21st Century."

ENDS

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