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The need for a focus on reading, writing, speaking, listening and numeracy


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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

New Zealand has a significant proportion of adults who are unable to participate effectively or fully in a knowledge society because of low language, literacy and/or numeracy skills.

The 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey1 revealed that in New Zealand, as in many other countries, almost half of all adults aged from 16 to 65 years old had pressing literacy and numeracy needs. One in five New Zealanders were found to have very poor literacy skills. The majority of Māori and Pacific adults performed well below average on all aspects of literacy and almost half of all unemployed people were at the lowest level of literacy.

The more recent 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey2 compared results internationally for numeracy (the ability to understand and process mathematical and numerical information) and document literacy (the ability to read and understand discontinuous texts such as graphs, charts and tables).

This survey shows that approximately 50 percent of the adult New Zealand population still have low numeracy and (document) literacy scores. Of particular concern once again is the over-representation of Māori and Pacific populations at the lowest levels of numeracy performance (results are not yet available for document literacy).

Literacy (which here includes listening, speaking, reading and writing) and numeracy skills are often integral to the work and activities adults need to do. Developing these skills enables people to participate more effectively in our society.

1 Refer to Walker, Udy and Pole, 1996.

2 The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Headline Results and Background, Ministry of Education, December 2007.

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