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New inquiry into adult literacy and its importance

Issue date: Wednesday, 3 February 2021

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The House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training has launched an inquiry into adult literacy and its importance.

Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Laming MP, said ‘many adult Australians have poor literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills and this may limit their ability to participate fully in employment, education and training, and social and civic life.’

‘The Committee’s previous inquiry into remote education found that poor adult literacy can also negatively impact on children’s participation and attainment in education’, Mr Laming said.

‘The Committee is interested in hearing how measures to improve adult literacy can foster greater labour market participation, increased productivity, improved education outcomes for children, and improvements to individual and community well-being’, Mr Laming said.

The inquiry will examine adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills in Australia, including:

  • The relationship between adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills and socio-demographic characteristics, particularly migrant status, First Nations status and individuals living in households that have experienced intergenerational unemployment;
  • The effect that literacy and numeracy skills have on an individual’s labour force participation and wages;
  • Links between literacy and social outcomes such as health, poverty, ability to care for other family members and participation in civic life;
  • The relationship between parents’ literacy skills and their children’s education and literacy skill development from birth to post-secondary education;
  • Whether changes to schooling in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 will have a disproportionate impact on the skill development of those children of parents with lower literacy and numeracy levels, and consider appropriate remediation programs which might address this;
  • The availability, impact and effectiveness of adult literacy and numeracy educational programs in Australia and internationally; and,
  • International comparisons of government policies and programs that may be adapted to the Australian experience.

Submissions to the inquiry have been requested by Friday, 5 March 2021. Further details about upcoming public hearings will be available on the Committee’s website as the inquiry progresses.

Media inquiries
Mr Andrew Laming MP, Chair
07 3821 0155

For background information
Committee Secretariat
02 6277 4573

For more information about this Committee, you can visit its website. On the site, you can make a submission to an inquiry, read other submissions, and get details for upcoming public hearings. You can also track the Committee and receive email updates by clicking on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

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