• Wyatt Creech

Education Minister Wyatt Creech today welcomed new international research on adult literacy rates and expressed optimism for literacy levels in the future.

"The information is extremely useful and gives us an insight into the literacy levels of adults that we have never had before. The wealth of the new information will help the Government develop the right policies to improve literacy levels," Mr Creech said.

"While some of the figures in the OECD report might at first glance seem alarming, New Zealand is not on its own. We are ranked at a similar level to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

"These countries will now be grappling with the same issues that New Zealand will have to address.

"The figures highlight the importance of making certain that young people get a good education to springboard them into the future. The research does not reflect the current state of the New Zealand education system but illustrates the literacy abilities of school leavers from up to 50 years ago.

"The emphasis schools place on English through the New Zealand curriculum will help raise the literacy levels of young people before they leave school. We are also working to remove disparities in education which affect literacy through initiatives such as the Education Strategy for Maori, extra funding for English for Speakers of other languages and increased funding for students and schools at risk."

Mr Creech said he believed the survey showed that improvements could be made in the provision of remedial programmes for adults and those programmes targeted at people with English as a second language.

"The research will help with future planning and policy work in the areas of adult and continuing education, and for alternative education providers in the compulsory sector.

"We already fund a range of programmes designed to lift the literacy levels of adults, and the funding will increase in 1998," Mr Creech said.

In 1998 the Adult Reading and Learning Assistance Federation will receive almost $1.8 million. The Workbase Education Trust will receive close to $340,000 and the National Association of ESOL Home Tutor Schemes $1.7 million.

In 1998 the Auckland Institute of Technology will receive a special supplementary grant of $1.2 million for the Mangere Refugee Centre to provide induction programmes for refugees arriving in New Zealand. This contact
Anna Hughes (04) 4719 819
or Nick Pole Ministry of Education (04) 4716 146.
includes English language tuition.

In addition there are many English language programmes funded by tertiary education institutions and those supported by the Education and Training Support Agency through the Training Opportunities programme which target people with English Language needs.