Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says the government’s focus on foundation skills has seen the number of adults accessing programmes with a strong literacy and numeracy component more than quadruple since 2008.
In 2008, less than 15,000 adult learners accessed foundation courses with embedded literacy and numeracy. Last year, that number was 35,000 and this year it will be as high as 70,000.
Speaking at the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Symposium, Mr Joyce says lifting levels of literacy and numeracy is essential.
“By world standards, New Zealand has a well-educated population but at the same time we have a long tail of adult New Zealanders who have fallen through the cracks in terms of literacy and numeracy.
“If we’re serious about growth and lifting standards right across the board then we need to tackle literacy and numeracy levels by ensuring this sort of learning is a core part of lower-level tertiary education.
“We have put a much clearer emphasis on the need to build foundation skills, and for successful progression into formal tertiary education. Programmes that embed literacy and numeracy aim to raise these skills while learners are studying towards a specific qualification.”
Mr Joyce says this is an essential part of foundation or entry level tertiary education – and includes Youth Guarantee programmes and industry training.
The focus for literacy and numeracy has now shifted from the development of capacity and capability for embedded literacy and numeracy to expecting embedded literacy and numeracy to be ‘business-as-usual’ for foundation courses.
“From 2013, we want to see literacy and numeracy embedded in nearly all level 1 and 2 programmes,” says Mr Joyce.
“By 2013, we expect that at least 100,000 students will have literacy and numeracy included in their courses.”