Wednesday, 8 February 2012

46% functional illiteracy - really?

You may have seen us use the following message in our communications about the National Year of Reading 2012:

Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can't read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.

The 46% statistic has generated a lot of discussion and concern. Naturally people are horrified and disbelieving.  If you are interested in finding out about the research behind the message then here is some information for you.

The original statistics for the 46% came from the 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey

Another interesting survey is one completed by the Australian Industry Group in May 2010.  It found that more than 75% of major employers felt their businesses were affected by low levels of literacy and numeracy in the workforce.

Improving those figures is obviously a huge challenge.  The City of Mandurah has decided to make family literacy initiatives a priority during National Year of Reading 2012 as these provide hope for future generations. 

The most active period of brain growth and development is from birth to three and it is widely recognised that sharing books with young children before they go to school greatly improves their chances of developing good literacy skills. When children learn to love books as babies and toddlers, they are more likely to become good readers in the early grades, and better learners throughout their school years and beyond.

Our goal is to help parents and caregivers to understand that regularly sharing books with their children, even for as little as ten minutes a day, really will help to improve those statistics for the next generation.

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