Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society
While most people can read, the real question is whether their reading and writing skills meet the challenge of living and working in today's information-rich and knowledge intensive society and economy. This latest report on the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society tells us that literacy means more than knowing how to read, write or calculate. It involves understanding and being able to use the information required to function effectively in the knowledge-based societies that will dominate the twenty-first century.
The purpose of formal schooling has always been to ensure that new generations develop the skills they require. Yet, the challenge of maintaining and improving the literacy skills of adults is an issue that is much broader than formal education. The International Adult Literacy Survey reveals that literacy skills can be lost if they are not used throughout life. Consequently the study argues for the development of a culture committed to learning and to the creation of literacy-rich environments wherever people live and work, that is, in the home, in the community and in places of employment. It suggests that an investment in literacy is a long-term interest-bearing bond which pays substantial benefits for individuals, for employers and for nations.