Date of release: Friday, August 23, 2013

Adult LiteracyA University of Greenwich literacy and language education specialist is leading a European project to help adults considered to have poor reading and writing skills into work.

Dr Gordon Ade-ojo wants to develop bespoke literacy programmes for people keen to do particular jobs, such as being a plumber or working in a shop.

A £34,000 grant from the EU is bringing like-minded academics and researchers together from a range of European universities for a conference and series of workshops at the University of Greenwich early next year.

Dr Ade-ojo, a Principal Lecturer in the School of Education, says: “One in five of the UK adult population has been identified as having low or very low levels of functional literacy skills – tested on the types of literacy taught in schools and colleges which can be quite abstract and elitist.

“But many people classified as having low literacy levels are regularly reading and writing in their everyday lives – when they go shopping, visit a night club or even follow a favourite football team. They already have social literacy skills.

“By analysing the specific reading and writing requirements for different jobs that people really want to do, we can develop literacy programmes to match their very particular needs. As a result, they are much more likely to find the courses practical, relevant and engaging.”

Dr Ade-ojo is currently co-authoring an edited book on the topic Landscape for Specific Literacies for Routledge.

“We now understand how people use their social literacy skills. We need to use that approach to practical reading and writing tasks to help more people unlock a place in the jobs market.

“This grant is enabling European adult literacy educationists and specialists to work together to agree the way forward to develop and deliver job-specific literacy programmes across the continent.

“It is real progress in our shared bid to tackle the growing problems of adult literacy and the waste of so much talent within our economies,” he says.

Story by Public Relations