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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment has been made of the number of adults unable to read and write to an adequate level; what plans he has to improve literacy; and if he will make a statement. [111147]

The Moser Report (1999) indicated that around 7 million adults in England have poor literacy skills, and that even more have a problem with numbers. The Department has commissioned a new representative sample survey of working age adults in England to provide an up-to-date assessment of the scale of literacy and numeracy need. These estimates will be mapped to the new national basic skills standards and will be published in summer 2003.

In March 2001, the Government launched Skills for Life, the national strategy for improving adult's literacy and numeracy skills. The strategy aims to improve the basic skills of 1.5 million adults by 2007 by boosting demand for learning, ensuring the capacity of basic skills training, raising standards in teaching and learning, and increasing learner achievement. Between April 2001 and July 2002, 300,000 adults improved their literacy, language or numeracy skills.