The problem of low adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa
I have an updated post about this here.
It’s difficult to say exactly what is causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa New Zealand. What we can say though is that low adult literacy and numeracy skills are associated with certain kinds of things.
Just because two things happen together doesn’t always mean that one causes the other. This is an easy mistake to make. In technical terms, we can say this: “Correlation does not imply causation.”
So the point is to be a bit cautious when we’re talking about what we think is causing the problem.
That said, here’s a list of things that often pop up when we talk about what’s causing low skills in the adult population in literacy and numeracy:
- The impact of colonisation.
- Socio-economic factors.
- Cycles of poverty.
- Poor teaching.
We’ll have a look at each of these next.
The impact of colonisation
Colonisation has had a profound impact on Māori language and culture, which has in turn had an impact on literacy and numeracy rates among Māori communities.
The suppression of the Māori language through colonial policies, such as the Native Schools Act of 1867, led to a decline in Māori language use and proficiency.
This, combined with other factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and cultural dislocation, has contributed to low literacy and numeracy rates among Māori populations in New Zealand.
Socio-economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and low levels of education can contribute to low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in New Zealand.
Adults who grow up in disadvantaged environments may not have access to quality education and may lack the skills and resources needed to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
They may also face significant barriers to accessing adult education and training programs, which can further exacerbate these issues.
Cycles of poverty
Cycles of poverty, which can be passed down from generation to generation, can also contribute to low adult literacy and numeracy in New Zealand.
Adults who grow up in poverty may not have access to quality education, which can limit their employment opportunities and earning potential. This, in turn, can make it difficult to escape poverty and improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
Poor teaching, whether in schools or adult education programs, can also contribute to low adult literacy and numeracy rates in New Zealand.
Teachers who lack the necessary training and resources may struggle to provide effective instruction, particularly to students with diverse learning needs. This can lead to frustration and disengagement among students, which can in turn contribute to low literacy and numeracy rates.
While technology can be a valuable tool for improving literacy and numeracy skills, it can also have negative impacts on these skills. For example, reliance on spell-check and autocorrect features may limit individuals’ ability to spell and use proper grammar.
Over-reliance on calculators and other digital tools may also limit individuals’ ability to perform basic arithmetic operations without assistance. As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in our lives, it is important to ensure that individuals have the necessary skills to use it effectively without sacrificing fundamental literacy and numeracy skills.
You may be interested in more research about this here