Plans for adult literacy run counter to Labour values

6th July 2007 at 01:00

We are members of a mixed ability adult literacy class which is specifically for people with dyslexia. We are writing to express our concerns about the Government's proposed plans for adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL classes.

In September the Government plans to fund basic skills and ESOL classes for learners who are roughly at GCSE level or just below. It is hoped that these individuals can then join the workforce. This ignores the fact that many adults fall way below this level.

In Birmingham it is thought that 25 per cent of the population are functionally illiterate. Many children still leave secondary school with poor literacy and numeracy skills because they have not flourished in a school environment. This swathe of people will be denied a second chance unless they are teenage mothers or offenders, two other groups the Government intends to target.

We are very upset by the closure of our class. We feel that we have gained a great deal. Our literacy has improved. We have learnt coping strategies and learning skills. We have benefited from having specialist help and being able to share our problems with like-minded people. Our self-esteem and confidence have risen dramatically.

We feel that these closures are a complete contradiction of Labour values. Some of the weakest members of society will be denied the help they need. Their employment opportunities will be reduced.

People with low self-esteem are less likely to become involved with the community and undertake voluntary work. Parents would be unable to help with their children's homework or communicate effectively with their children's school. Poor literacy and communication skills can mean that it is difficult to claim benefits or even communicate with your doctor. In some cases, safety is an issue where individuals are unable to read a fire notice or the instructions on a bottle of pills. In short, their quality of life is much reduced.

Anne Jones Lecturer, Stone Hall Centre Birmingham

This letter is also signed by six of her students

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