ERIC Number: ED339919
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr-5
Reference Count: N/A
Adult Literacy Issues, Programs, and Options. CRS Issue Brief. Updated.
Irwin, Paul M.
Media reports suggest widespread illiteracy among adults who may not be able to read, write, speak, or otherwise communicate competently enough to meet the demands of modern society. No consensus has been reached regarding a definition of illiteracy or supporting statistics. Estimates of adult illiteracy range form 0.5% to 50%, meaning that of the 196 million Americans over age 14 in 1988, the number who are less than functionally proficient would range from 1 million to 100 million. Illiteracy and incompetence in the nation's work force imply losses through low productivity, accidents, employee errors, and extra training programs. High rates of illiteracy are reported among welfare recipients and those in criminal institutions. Federal assistance for adult education and literacy programs is primarily authorized through the Adult Education Act (AEA). The AEA serves an estimated 3.9 million people annually, with a fiscal year 1991 appropriation of $229 million. In 1983, the Adult Literacy Initiative was launched to increase national attention to adult literacy. Much of the public effort by states and localities to address literacy problems is organized under the federal AEA program. Literacy programs are also operated by private groups. Federal options for responding to the problems of adult illiteracy are continuation of existing programs, increased funding, targeting and prioritization, and increased federal initiative and leadership. A national commission might be established to define illiteracy and provide expert direction toward increasing the quality of literacy data. Current legislation addressing the problem includes the National Literacy Act of 1991, the Higher Education Technical Amendments, and the Strengthening Education for American Families Act. (17 references) (YLB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Congressional Research Service.
Identifiers: Adult Education Act 1966
Note: Revised version of ED 317 794.