Literacy in the Information Age

Literacy in the Information Age

Final Report of the International Adult Literacy Survey You do not have access to this content

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OECD, Statistics Canada
25 May 2000
9789264181762 (PDF) ;9789264176546(print)

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Literacy in the Information Age, the final report from the International Adult Literacy Survey, presents evidence on the nature and magnitude of the literacy gaps faced by OECD countries. It offers new insights into the factors that influence the development of adult skills in various settings - at home, at work and across the 20 countries for which comparable household assessment results are included. Findings point to large differences in the average level and population distribution of literacy skills both within and between countries. Low literacy skills are evident among all adult groups in significant - albeit varying - proportions. Literacy proficiency varies considerably according to home background factors and educational attainment in most of the countries surveyed. However, the relationship between literacy skills and educational attainment is complex. Many adults have managed to attain high levels of literacy proficiency despite a low level of education; conversely, some have low literacy skills despite a high level of education. These differences matter both economically and socially: literacy affects, inter alia, labour quality and flexibility, employment, training opportunities, income from work and wider participation in civic society. Improving the literacy skills of the population remains a large challenge for policy makers. The results suggest that high-quality foundation learning in schools is important but insufficient as a sole means to that end. Policies directed at the workplace and family settings are also needed. The employers’ role in promoting and rewarding literacy skills is particularly important for skills development.

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Table of Contents

Highlights and Note to Readers
Chapter 1. Skills for the 21st Century
-1.1 Introduction
-1.2 Structural Changes in the Knowledge Economy
-1.3 Impact on the Demand for Skills
-1.4 Conclusion
Chapter 2. Population Distributions of Adult Literacy
-2.1 Introduction
-2.2 Patterns of Adult Literacy Skills
-2.3 Literacy Skills and Education
-2.4 Conclusion
Chapter 3. How Literacy is Developed and Sustained
-3.1 Introduction
-3.2 Home Background and Literacy Outcomes
-3.3 Literacy and Education by Age
-3.4 Literacy and Work
-3.5 Literacy and Formal Adult Education
-3.6 Literacy, Culture, and Civic Skills
-3.7 Self-Assessed Literacy Skills
-3.8 Factors Explaining Literacy Proficiency
-3.9 Conclusion
Chapter 4. Outcomes and Benefits of Literacy
-4.1 Introduction
-4.2 Literacy and the Labour Force
-4.3 Education, Literacy, and Experience
-4.4 Windows into the Socio-Economic Benefits of Literacy
-4.5 Conclusion
Chapter 5. Future Developments
-5.1 Introduction
-5.2 Methodological Advances
-5.3 Main Findings
-5.4 Issues for Further Analysis
Annex A. Definitions of Literacy Performance on Three Scales
Annex B. Survey Methodology and Data Quality
Annex C. Note on International Comparability of IALS Data
Annex D. Data Values for the Figures
Annex E. Source Database for the International Adult Literacy Survey
Annex F. Principal Participants in the Project

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