ERIC Number: ED317794
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Oct-19
Reference Count: N/A
Adult Literacy Issues, Programs, and Options. 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. There is no consensus on the definition of illiteracy or supporting statistics. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the adult illiteracy rate is 13 percent, or 17-21 million persons. Other estimates of illiteracy, functional incompetency, and marginal competency range from 0.5 percent to 50 percent of the adult population. Of the 191 million who were 14 years or older in 1985, the number who are less than functionally proficient would range from under 1 million to over 100 million. Illiteracy and incompetency in the work force imply losses through low productivity, accidents, employee errors, and extra training programs. High rates of illiteracy are reported among welfare recipients and prison inmates. Illiteracy also impinges on national security. Federal assistance for adult education and literacy programs is primarily authorized through the Adult Education Act (AEA), which serves 3.2 million people yearly and had a FY89 appropriation of $155 million. The AEA has been extended through 1993. Other federal legislation that supports literacy education includes the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the Family Support Act of 1988. Amending federal programs to clarify priorities, targeting assistance to adults most in need, establishing a national commission to define literacy and increasing the quality of literacy data are under discussion. (The document includes 16 references.) (CML)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Vocational and Adult Education (ED), Washington, DC. Clearinghouse on Adult Education and Literacy.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Support Act 1988