5 areas to investigate if you want to understand literacy and numeracy in your country


If you want to know about the context for literacy and numeracy in New Zealand or any country there are 5 key areas you need to investigate. For my purposes these are in relation to our particular context in Aotearoa New Zealand, but you can generalize them to any country.

You need to investigate:

  • Historical and current initiatives for adult literacy and numeracy education.
  • Definitions for adult literacy and numeracy, including indigenous definitions.
  • Reasons for low literacy and numeracy rates in the adult population
  • The impacts of low literacy and numeracy. This means nationally, locally, for industry, for communities, and for families.
  • Resources available for teachers and others to address literacy and numeracy issues. This includes specialist literacy and numeracy organisations.

And a great way to get a big picture understanding of the situation in New Zealand is the publication Facing the Challenge: Foundation Learning for Adults in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Facing the Challenge is a New Zealand-focused book on adult literacy and numeracy education. The book’s scope covers different perspectives on the teaching of literacy and numeracy, different contexts for provision, and various issues including professional development, assessment, and information and communications technology (ICT).

Most useful though is Chapter One which is short and a great place to get the kind of overview you need if you want to get a handle on literacy and numeracy education in New Zealand.

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