Adult Literacy for a Productive, Knowledge-based Economy

By Sylila Monteiro and Rashika Sharma.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The increasing complexity of contemporary society demands a more versatile and highly knowledgeable human capital base. To effectively function in the workplace and in daily life, knowledge workers today need to utilise their literacy and comprehension skills in multifaceted situations they encounter. Exceptional adult literacy is considered to be vital to the economic wellbeing of countries in the global context. In an economy of knowledge-based industries, the demand for a more literate workforce contributes to greater productivity. Literacy skills enable adjustment to rapidly changing workplace requirements and leads to the development of advanced technical skills and lifelong learning skills. In 2006, New Zealand Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) assessment results indicated that 1.1 million New Zealanders, which equates to 43% of adults aged between 16 and 65, have literacy and numeracy skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society. Over 80% of these people make up the workforce. Therefore, increasing the literacy level is a key strategic priority for the New Zealand education system that aims to build a high-skill, high-wage economy and an inclusive society where everyone can participate effectively (Tertiary Education Commission, 2008). This research paper presents findings on assessment of adult literacy at tertiary level, the effectiveness of in-class interventions, and the resulting improvements in literacy.

Keywords: Adult Literacy, Tertiary Education, Knowledge Society

The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.33-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 427.205KB).

Sylila Monteiro

Lecturer, Curriculum Leader, Faculty of Creative Industries and Business, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

Sylila Monteiro teaches a wide range of communication and integrated practice papers on certificate, diploma, and degree programmes offered at UNITEC. She is actively involved in the delivery of communication, health and safety, and sustainable practice. She previously taught communication in Zambia Institute of Technology in Kitwe, Zambia. She specialises in business document translation services for French and Portuguese organizations engaged in international communication. She also provides training for New Zealand Army personnel in Portuguese and French as preparation for overseas assignments. Her consultancy work involves industry training on communication components of management development programmes for Unitec Enterprise Unit. Sylila's research interests include interdisciplinary integrated practice in education, intercultural communication, and sustainability. She has presented her research at several conferences in New Zealand and overseas.

Rashika Sharma

Lecturer, Faculty of Technology and Built Environment, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

Rashika is a lecturer in integrated practice at UNITEC New Zealand, specialising in sustainable practice, societal context, and generic skills in the Bachelor of Applied Technology program. Rashika’s research focus is on education for sustainability, and takes keen interest in student-centred teaching and learning strategies. Rashika has also taught at the Fiji Institute of Technology in Suva, Fiji.