Following our face to face meeting in February, ACAL contacted a number of politicians to put some questions to them about adult literacy and numeracy. The major parties were contacted, along with independent MPs.
As we receive responses, we will share them in our newsletters.
Here’s the response received from the Office of Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Senator for NSW with the Australian Greens.
Office of Dr Mehreen Faruqi | Senator for NSW
1. As an adult, have you engaged in any formal learning? How did you find the experience?
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in engineering education throughout my adult life – both as a student and teacher.
The experience has shaped my view of the importance of education ever since. It taught me that we cannot allow our education institutions to box students in. The myriad of paths learners take through life must all be accommodated if we are to make adult literacy education accessible to all. To that end, we must have a world-class, universally accessible public education available to all throughout their lives.
2. What do you envisage are the challenges and opportunities for adult literacy and numeracy learners in Australia?
The key challenge for adult literacy and numeracy learners in Australia is accessing the education they need in a post-school education system that is too often lacking in resources. We must address all barriers to a truly world-class adult education system in Australia and give all learners the opportunity to access quality literacy and numeracy programs throughout their lives. It’s our responsibility as policy makers to reset the agenda and prevent anyone from falling through the cracks. The Greens’ commitment to providing free TAFE and university courses to all throughout their lives is an important step in meeting that responsibility.
3. What role does adult literacy and numeracy play in Australia’s future?
Literacy and numeracy is a social justice issue. It is foundational to education and employment opportunities for all and allows cycles of disadvantage to be broken. Without well-funded and accessible adult literacy and numeracy services, we risk the exclusion of many Australians from work, education and society at large. It is absolutely vital that we not allow this to happen.
4. A number of other countries have policies on literacy and numeracy for adults. What do you think we can learn from these nations?
Australia currently ranks in the bottom third of OECD countries on educational equality, which is a huge concern and leaves too many people vulnerable. We can learn from other countries that a concerted policy approach to adult literacy and numeracy helps deliver the outcomes learners deserve. We should be looking at frameworks that have worked overseas but we must also listen to communities here in Australia to ensure new approaches meet their needs.
5. Do you think Australia needs a new policy on adult literacy and numeracy?
One in seven Australians have poor literacy skills and a third have literacy skills that leave them vulnerable to unemployment and social exclusion. A nationally coordinated approach, engaging federal and state governments, experts, stakeholders and adult learners themselves, is key to ensuring adult literacy and numeracy is not left behind. In addressing the resourcing challenge, the Greens’ plan for fee-free TAFE and undergraduate university throughout an adult’s life will help guarantee access and quality of education for all Australians.
Maliha Aqueel, Policy Adviser, Office of Dr Mehreen Faruqi | Senator for NSW
Senator Faruqi’s electorate office is on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.