[AAACE-NLA] Political Will
tsticht at znet.com
tsticht at znet.com
Fri Mar 24 17:47:10 EST 2006
Aaace-NLA Colleagues: Since 1992 I have consulted with various agencies in
the UK regarding basic skills education for adults, and I have been to
meetings there for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the
Basic Skills Agency (which used to be the ALBSU) twice this year. For this
reason I read the postings by John Comings and Gail Spangenberg with some
considerable interest. Right now there are strong debates about the basic
skills programs of the government. Following is an article from the
Guardian last December that illustrates the nature of the debate. Of
interest to the idea about political will, it is significant, I believe,
that there is even a debate going on about the government's program. There
are no such debates in the US. In fact, I would venture to guess that most
people don't even know there is an AELS with federal and state support in
the USA. A sorry thing for the millions of adults who need help with
literacy in our nation. Tom Sticht
Further education news
Adult literacy scheme branded failure
Wednesday December 7, 2005
Education inspectors condemned a £2bn government drive to improve basic
literacy and numeracy levels among adults as a "depressing" failure today.
Ministers have hailed the Skills for Life scheme, which aimed to encourage
more adults to take basic qualifications and develop their abilities in
English and maths.
But the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) said the programme was failing,
despite the "extraordinary" amount of money the government had spent.
The findings came just 48 hours after a government review warned Britain's
economic prosperity was at risk because so many adults cannot read, write
or add up properly.
The ALI said Skills for Life was not achieving its key aim of helping people
from the poorest backgrounds.
In its annual report, the ALI said: "There has been a depressing lack of
improvement and a failure to effectively tackle weaknesses over the past
"This is despite an extraordinary injection of funds and capacity building
from the government's Skills for Life campaign.
"All this is most disappointing."
Last year, ministers hailed the success of the scheme as one of the few high
profile education initiatives that had met its key targets.
But the ALI report said the achievement was of "debatable" value.
"Last year, Skills for Life met its initial target of three-quarters of a
million new qualifications achieved in numeracy or literacy.
"Half these were gained by 16 to 18-year-olds already enrolled on college
"It is debatable how much extra value was added by the programme in that
The report said the amount of good quality work on literacy and numeracy in
colleges has fallen.
The ALI's chief inspector, David Sherlock, said adult education colleges
were being forced to make up for the shortcomings of state schools.
"We cannot get away from the fact that the adult learning sector is
distorted to deal with the shortcomings of our schools system," he said.
"Until we deal with our failure to properly equip so many young people for
adulthood, let alone successful careers, we cannot hope to build a
world-beating adult skills strategy."
On Monday, Lord Leitch published the interim findings of his review into the
UK's skills requirements for the 21st century.
Half of adults do not have the maths abilities expected of primary school
children and one in six does not have the literacy skills of an
11-year-old, he said.
Lord Leitch warned that current targets for improving skills levels will be
"difficult" to achieve.
And even then, they will not be enough to improve Britain's "poor" standing
on the world stage, he said.
The skills minister Phil Hope acknowledged that there was much more to be
done, stressing that the ALI report had highlighted major improvements in
the quality of training.
"However, we acknowledge that there is still more for us to do if we are to
improve basic skills," he said.
"The report will be a spur to help us identify what needs to be done to
raise the quality of provision across the board.
"More than a million adults have improved their skills and gained a first
qualification since we launched the Skills for Life programme.
"We are on course to meet our target of improving the skills of 2.25 million
adults by 2010."
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