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Basic skills on the mend


The DfES is taking the opportunity of Adult Learners' Week to herald an improvement in Basic Skills. Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris today launched the 2002 Adult Learners’ Week and announced that 125,000 adults have passed tests in the last year to boost their basic skills – a sixth of the way towards the Government’s target of 750,000 learners.

Ms Morris said: "Adult Learners’ Week matters because getting back to learning can change lives. It can mean becoming better at your job, boosting your pay packet or opening up new career opportunities. In the last year alone we have seen 125,000 adults pass a test in literacy or numeracy. I congratulate all of them for their achievement and I urge other adults to follow their lead.

"The training we have introduced to drive up basic levels of literacy and numeracy has been welcomed in the first survey we have done of learners’ experiences. Nine out of 10 learners said the training had helped them overcome their lack of confidence, while two-thirds said the training had helped them assist their children with school work. Three-quarters of learners said the training had encouraged them to get more qualifications. There are more opportunities than ever before for people to learn what they want, when they want and at a time that suits them. It’s not about going into a school or college but popping down to the community centre, library or going online. And in many cases adult learning is free.

"There are about 7 million people who find their reading, writing and maths aren’t up to scratch. They earn less than their work colleagues who have GCSEs and can face challenges doing everyday things. Thanks to our £1.5 billion investment in basic skills there are now thousands of free courses available across the country to help. There remains much to do but we are determined to help 750,000 adults improve their reading, writing and maths over the next two years. Since it opened in 1998, the learndirect information and advice service has helped over 4 million people.

"From next week to 21 June, the Learning and Skills Council will run its ‘Bite Size Intros’. These are free taster sessions where adults can learn more about computers, parenting, or foreign languages. A total of 70,000 people took part last year. There are over 2,750 UK Online centres up and running to help people take their first steps into the internet world, perhaps leading to more learning and jobs – all for little or no cost. All these programmes are helping combat skills shortages and boost this country’s international competitiveness. Adult Learners’ Week has been a great success over the past decade. It has helped 250,000 people get back on the learning track and the idea has been copied in over 40 countries. My message is straightforward. Learning should be an enjoyable lifelong journey. It’s important not to stop learning once you’ve started. For more information on learning opportunities in your area, call learndirect on 0800 100 900."


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