Australian Council of TESOL Associations

Australian Council of TESOL Associations

2022 April- Adult literacy inquiry calls for new national strategy.

The following Media Release was issued on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 by the Parliament of Australia.


Adult literacy inquiry calls for new national strategy.


The House Employment, Education and Training Committee has today presented the report of its inquiry into adult literacy and its importance, which recommends an Australian national language, literacy, numeracy and digital literacy (LLND) strategy.

Committee Chair, Mr Andrew Laming MP said, ‘Too many Australians are leaving school with LLND skills gaps that limit their life choices. At the same time, many older Australians are finding that the skills they have relied on their whole lives are not keeping pace as technology changes.’

‘The Committee found that there is a need to address factors that contribute to low LLND skills across all educational systems, at every stage of a person’s life course’, Mr Laming said.

Mr Laming commented: ‘Adults with very low LLND skills are unlikely to sign up for accredited courses in the VET system. Instead, working with a volunteer tutor or attending a small class at a neighbourhood centre can help build their skills and confidence, which may then lead to employment and further education and training. However, the adult and community education sector is under resourced and currently unable to meet the high demand for adult LLND education. There is also a critical shortage of qualified adult literacy teachers in Australia.’

Mr Laming said, ‘The Committee agreed with the Productivity Commission that there needs to be a national LLND strategy, that provides a broad range of adult educational offerings to meet people’s varied needs and clarifies jurisdictional responsibilities across the range of programs being offered.’

The Committee has made 15 recommendations that address several other key areas of reform to improve adult LLND skills, including:

  • support for whole of community and family LLND education programs for socially and economically marginalised Australians
  • improved data collection to drive evidence-based policy and outcomes
  • greater support for Australians with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) such as dyslexia
  • campaigns to raise awareness of SLDs, the challenges people with low LLND skills face, and where people can access support
  • recognition that English as an Additional Language or Dialect learners require the support of qualified Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) educators to maximise their educational achievement
  • an increase in the number of specialist adult literacy teachers and TESOL educators
  • support for measures that raise English LLND skills in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are consistent with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, such as the Literacy for Life Foundation’s delivery of Yes, I Can! adult literacy campaigns
  • a range of measures to ensure Australians with low LLND skills can access vital services.

The report and further information about the inquiry is available on the Committee’s inquiry website.


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