It has been estimated that there are some 2.4 million adult illiterates in the UK. Many of them are within the ranks of the unemployed or are convicted criminals. These are people who have been let down by the education system not equipping them with a fundamental life skill. We can correct this.
First, we would have the Department for Education (DfE) produce standard teaching materials for one-to-one teaching either in person or over the internet. This would include attainment testing allowing a participant to track their progress and, in particular, to be certified at various grades of literacy.
Second, the DfE would be charged with recruiting both volunteer teachers and students to join the programme. There is nothing magic about the number 1 million, but it is galvanising as a target.
There is very little administration required for this scheme. There must be a process under which both teachers and students are able to terminate an arrangement and start with someone new. There ought to be a feedback process to allow continual improvement.
There are several illiteracy charities, and it would be wise to involve them in this project both for their expertise and to be able to bolster and use their infrastructure.
A spin off from this project could be techniques to identify and help children with poor literacy while still at school. We should not accept that large numbers of kids leave school unable to read or write.
This is a project which could be mobilised within a year.
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