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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 00:13 GMT
Kentucky tackles high illiteracy
Writing
Kentucky plans to help 300,000 with literacy problems
Education authorities in Kentucky are funding a 10-year project to tackle one of the highest adult illiteracy rates in the United States.

By 2010, state authorities want 300,000 adults with reading problems to have enrolled in literacy classes - which would mean reaching about one-third of those with weaknesses in reading and writing.

According to the Kentucky Adult Literacy Survey, there are about one million people between the ages of 16 and 65 who have "low levels of literacy".

This means that about 40% of 2.5 million people in Kentucky of working age have problems with reading and writing.

At present there are about 51,000 adults in literacy classes - and the education authorities wants an increasing intake so there will be 100,000 people in classes by 2004-04, before rising to 300,000 by the end of the decade.

Low income

Kentucky has the smallest proportion of adults with high school diplomas in the US - and a survey in 1990 found that in a number of the state's counties, a majority of adults had not completed a high school education.

And the proportion of students in Kentucky staying on for higher education has been 50% below the national average.

Despite lacking reading and writing skills, about 90% of those in the lowest ability bands for literacy are in employment.

Concerns remain, however, that this high level of illiteracy in the workforce is a factor in low per capita income in the state.

The Council on Postsecondary Education wants the message that "education pays" to be encouraged within families, as illiteracy among parents can be a significant factor in the educational achievement of children.

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08 Nov 99 | Features
What adults are supposed to know
18 Feb 99 | Education
Soap stars support reading clinics
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