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EPALE Discussion: Adult literacy – what skills do adults need and what makes for an effective policy?

09/08/2017
EPALE Moderator

/it/file/literacy-discussion-epale-ebsnLiteracy Discussion EPALE EBSN

Literacy Discussion EPALE EBSN

 

As part of EPALE’s September focus on adult literacy, we would like to hear your views on what literacy skills adults need and what the success factors are for an effective national policy in this field.

The discussion is open to everyone and will take place on this page between 4-7 September 2017. It will be moderated by EPALE’s Thematic Coordinator for Life Skills, David Mallows in collaboration with our partners from the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN). This is a very lively discussion which is taking place over several pages. To go to the second page click here.  To go directly to the third page of discussion click here. Please make sure that you have perused all the discussion.

Feel free to comment or share your opinion on any of the following questions:

What kind of literacy skills do adults need in Europe in 2017?

  • What do we mean when we talk about 'adult literacy'? How does literacy relate to other basic skills?
  • What is the place of literacy in the context of Upskilling Pathways?
  • What needs improvement in literacy teaching and learning?

What are the success criteria for effective national policy in this field?

  • What are the main challenges (in your context) in supporting adults to improve their literacy?
  • How can we ensure that adequate investment is made in adult literacy education?

 

**The discussion has now been closed. You can still browse and read the community's comments.

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Lietotāja Graciela Sbertoli attēls

  Very happy that you have joined us! Wonderful description of your current work. And a very impressive program 

Lietotāja Ágnes Stépánné Vancsa attēls

Thank you for the absolutely important issue of adult literacy. I would like to comment on Estera Mozina’s posting because I am from Hungary, Budapest, which being in the same central European region, shares some historic and cultural aspects with Slovenia.

My name is Agnes Stepan and I work for the Association of Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge (Hungarian TIT) where there are numerous educational programmes: projects and courses for adult learners. This institute was founded in 1841 with almost the same aims. The most important areas seem to be the teaching of foreign languages to the “adult” to enable them to be part of the modern multicultural Europe.

While the number of speakers of foreign languages is growing, there is still a lot to be done in the field of minorities. The Hungarian government has done/ does a lot to support the various minority groups living and flourishing in Hungary and has achieved lots of success among the German, the Serbian, the Slovakian, the Armenian, the Rumanian, the Croatian groups, who can use and practise their mother tongues, and culture, but there is still a lot to do to help the Roma people. I agree with Estera’s opinion in seeing the life skills of these communities.

Talking about our improvements, we have to mention that a number of Roma people have been able to finish their higher education, professional trainings, and they are able to adopt to the working society and become its successful citizens.

We would like to extend and “export” our achievements to the Hungarian communities outside our borders, because we believe that after getting to know each other we will be somehow similar and “similis simili gaudet”.

Agnes Stepan

Lietotāja Graciela Sbertoli attēls

Welcome to the discussion, Agnes, and köszönöm szepén!

Regarding functional literacy for Roma adults (a very interesting subject!), I wonder: do you organize literacy training in Romani or only in Hungarian?

Lietotāja Ágnes Stépánné Vancsa attēls

Dear Graciela,

Thank you for your comment.

As I said before, foreign language teaching is a major issue in Hungary. There are state accredited examination systems working,  among them is Lovari, one of the Roma languages, which has an accepted written form used generally by the Romas. Not only Roma people are interested in learning this language and taking a language exam in it. So the existence of this language examination provides a huge motivation for these youngsters. And we know that modern language exams assess all four skills (sometimes even the skill of mediation too) and with the positive washback of it people learn to read and write better, and they become more successful in their lives.

Agnes Stepan

 

Lietotāja Graciela Sbertoli attēls

Thank you for your input, Carlos. I think I agree with you. Particularly with your first paragraph!

Regarding the problem we face: there is a place for talking about 'initial literacy', because the cognitive process of breaking the code should be addressed differently than the training needed to continuously develop your literacy to be able to maintain a level of functionality. It is useful to distinguish between two very different types of training!

Regarding gaps: I agree with you that such a negative approach may put the target group off. But talking to policy makers about the gap between existing and desired average level of functional literacy in the population does not at all mean that you look at the target group as people in a situation of inferiority nor indeed that you lack respect for them or the wish to empower them for autonomous learning. Quite the contrary.

Lietotāja Németh Ágnes attēls

Hi everybody,

My name is Agnes Nemeth, I'm from Budapest, Hungary, involved in higher education and adult education.

I totally agree with Armando and Estela, for me literacy is a skill to gather information for your daily life.

This skill should be developed from primary school, taught children how to think and get access to the info they need. Still, adult people, who could not fulfill this aim and learn how to do it, are in short of the key competences for a successful life.

Therefore yes, I think the role of digital education is getting essential.

If an adult needs some info, he/she tries to surf the Net. Doing so he has to scroll for info, read, and learn how to read information as gist, selective or detailed way. Step by step he will learn how to get the necessary info, how to compare it and will have to choose the best alternative. Here we can say that this person during this process develops his reading skills.

At the same time this person would need to fill in questionnaires, order things or subscribe to different places. So, while developing his reading skills, he will develop his writing competence, too.

Eventually, this person will feel himself more and more self-confident, having been able to do the above mentioned things. He will start listening to instructions, announcements, look at different materials; first at popular science, later on other issues, too.

In the end, this self confidence will make him want to learn more and more, he will not be embarrassed to speak; as he has got a lot of knowledge by now, enabling him to make up his own opinion and express it with ease.

I think this is the future, either at my field: learning and teaching foreign languages or at other professional fields.

 

Lietotāja Graciela Sbertoli attēls

Welcome, Agnes, and thank you for your input.

I know Hungary is currently working a lot in the area of digital competence for adult learners. Can you tell us a bit about the place of functional literacy in these strategies? 

Lietotāja Németh Ágnes attēls

Dear Graciela,

Thank you very much for your question. Digital literacy has a big share among our everyday competences. That's why our Government launched its regional programme where community houses have been equipped with Internet access and computers in less developed places so that the people living there can be part of communication networks, because otherwise they would be excluded from the modern world.

Statistics say that this project has proved to be successful and is spreading in Hungary.

Agnes Nemeth

Lietotāja Graciela Sbertoli attēls

I guess that is the project you are referring to, and that is indeed a wonderful strategy. Several members of the EBSN, and myself personally, were involved in its creation. It would be wonderful to get to know more about the current literacy programs.