10 reasons why we need higher level qualifications in adult literacy and numeracy education.


If you are in education you need to think about ways in which you can strengthen the literacy and numeracy skills of your learners. This is true if…

  • You are a teacher, a tutor, or  a trainer of some kind.
  • You own or work in an education business of some kind, even if you are not a teacher.
  • You design or develop materials that other people use for education and training.

It might also be true if you are just in business. Chances are that your business has an education aspect, even if you don’t think of yourself as an educator. After all, if we’re all in sales, we surely must also all be in education.

Education is about literacy and numeracy at it’s foundation. It’s about other things too, but your learners, clients, customers, workers, and others need to know very specific things in order to complete their tasks. If they lack the literacy and numeracy skills to understand what these tasks are, or they can’t read the instructions, or do the calculations then you’re in trouble.

The NZ evidence, buried as it is amongst all the paperwork, is that large chunks of the population don’t have adequate literacy and numeracy skills for life and work. The same is true in most OECD countries. In 2007, the first tier of professional qualifications for adult literacy and numeracy education were released. These qualifications, the National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education or NCALNE for short professionalized trades, vocational, and other educators working to strengthen literacy and numeracy outcomes in New Zealand.

Now, it’s time to look beyond the entry level qualifications provided by the NCALNE and see what can be done to extend the skills of educators further.

At the moment we’re investigating what it would take to get the next thing up and running. This is the Diploma in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education – or DipALNE for short. This is a level 6, 120 credit national qualification. Our plan at the moment is to get it online for 2013. You can help us by answering 10 questions.

Here are our assumptions… Our reasons why we think we need this qualification:

  1. The qualification was designed by the NZQA in response to a request from the sector. In other words, educators and others in NZ asked for it.
  2. If we don’t deliver it and get some traction here, NZQA will most likely remove it from the qualifications register. This would be a shame.
  3. There are several thousand NCALNE graduates. They all need something to take them to the next level.
  4. The need for professional qualification for educators involved in strengthening literacy and numeracy has not decreased just because times are tight economically. In fact, it’s the opposite.
  5. Everyone in education needs to make it their job to teach the literacy and numeracy skills that underpin their particular training or field of expertise. This means literacy and numeracy education are everyone’s responsibility.
  6. This qualification has export potential. New Zealand has done the hard work in creating a fantastic infrastructure for literacy and numeracy. This includes these kinds of professional qualifications, the Learning Professions for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, and the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool. Let’s not drop the ball guys.
  7. The education sector, particularly the so called literacy and numeracy experts all need to step up their game. This means me too. Gaining higher level qualifications is one way to do this.
  8. Strengthening literacy and numeracy means higher quality outcomes for every other education sector regardless of whether government funding is there to support it or not. Howe else will we see growth in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects, trades, and workforce unless very specific and contextualised literacy and numeracy skills are embedded into work and training in these areas.
  9. Improving literacy and numeracy skills benefits everyone. If I can train you to embed the literacy and numeracy skills that your workers or learners need into your workplace or training programme, you’ll actually be happier and so will those you work with. This is because the small gains that learners can make over time actually make a huge difference. This makes everyone happy. And productivity increases.
  10. Your own literacy and numeracy skills increase when you focus on developing the foundation learning skills of others. This is because you become more conscious of what is going on with your work or training and start thinking about your work with a literacy numeracy filter in place.

Help us out. If you haven’t already clicked the link above, take the survey.

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