Adult literacy has been at the heart of World Education’s work since it was established in 1951 in India and founded the Literacy House upon the urging of Mohandas Gandhi. Sixty-four years later, while gains have been made in many parts of the world, the need for literacy education remains great: there are nearly 800 million adults and out-of-school youth in the world with limited or no literacy and numeracy. In the U.S., adults’ basic skills are falling behind those of other developed nations. For the first time, the skills of young adults are lower than those of their parents’ generation. At the same time, people need even more different types of literacies to move ahead in their lives than in 1951. World Education’s approach to literacy education and how we define it has evolved and expanded commensurate with the skills adults need to navigate systems, pursue opportunities, and address problems successfully in their personal lives, work, and communities.
To commemorate the Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, in this series of blog posts World Education/ U.S. staff share their views on what literacy means to us today and how we are helping to advance adult education in multiple ways. Our list is not comprehensive: there are not enough days in a week to feature all the types of literacy youth and adults need in today’s world! Please join the dialogue.
College and Career Readiness
How can we improve adults’ opportunities to attain a family sustaining wage as the need for postsecondary education and training, and industry-recognized credentials continues to grow?
Approximately two-thirds of adults age 25 or older do not persist in postsecondary education long enough to earn a credential, and many others do not even enroll (Camille and Siebens, 2012). These adults are less likely to succeed in the labor market than those with postsecondary credentials, earning up to 40 percent less than those who earn an associates degree (Baum, Ma, and Payea, 2010). Future labor market demand is expected to favor workers with higher levels of education (Sommers and Franklin, 2012). For adults with low literacy and numeracy skills and those learning English as a foreign language, the transition to and completion of postsecondary education and training can be difficult. They face a range of challenges, including a lack of academic preparation for college, and knowledge of and access to financial aid and other supports.
Given these challenges, how does World Education support the strengthening of college and career readiness for adults? World Education believes that college and career readiness consists of four interconnected elements: personal, career, college knowledge, and academic. All of these elements must be addressed for adults to succeed in postsecondary education and training. The National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education works to increase the capacity of adult education systems, programs, and educators to address all four areas of college and career readiness.