About Adult Literacy

About Adult Literacy

Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection. …As the foundation of learning throughout life, literacy is at the heart of sustainable development.

[Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, Message for International Literacy Day, 8 September 2005]

Definitions

Literacy

“The ability to understand, use, and respond appropriately to written texts.”
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), citing the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

“An individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, compute, and solve problems, at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society.”
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), section 203

“Using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”
Kutner, M., Greenberg, E., Jin, Y., Boyle, B., Hsu, Y., and Dunleavy, E. (2007). Literacy in Everyday Life: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NCES 2007–480)

Numeracy

“The ability to use basic mathematical and computational skills.”
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), citing the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

“Numerate behavior involves managing a situation or solving a problem in a real context by responding to information about mathematical ideas that is represented in a range of ways and requires activation of a range of enabling knowledge, behaviors, and processes.”
Adult Numeracy Network

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace, and democracy.

[“Why Is Literacy Important?” UNESCO, 2010]
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