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Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 12:05 GMT
Three Rs test for adults
One in five adults is classified "functionally illiterate"
The government is pledging free basic education for adults as part of a multi-million pound drive to reduce the levels of illiteracy.

One in five adults in the UK - about seven million people - is classified as having below functional levels of literacy and has difficulty with simple sums.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said up to 1.5bn would be spent up to the year 2004, creating a network of learning centres in schools, colleges and workplaces.

The Liberal Democrats say this lumps together several years' worth of funding, first announced last September - and that the vision of tackling the skills shortage is being limited by the chancellor, "Prudence Brown".

The government wants to introduce an adult literacy and numeracy curriculum - similar to that used in primary schools - with standardised tests.

The Department for Education issued the following questions and answers as a sample of what could be included in the curriculum.

Literacy Level One

Paracetamol tablets - directions for use.

Adults: two tablets up to four times a day as required. Children (six to 12 years): half to one tablet three or four times daily as required. Not recommended for children under six years of age.

Those doses should not be repeated more frequently than every four hours and not more than four doses should be taken in 24 hours.

Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist. Do not exceed stated dosage.

1. James, aged 29, has a headache. How many tablets should he take at a time?

  • A. Half
  • B. One
  • C. Two
  • D. Four

2. What is the maximum number of tablets James is recommended to take in 24 hours?

  • A. One up to four times a day
  • B. Two up to three times a day
  • C. Two up to four times a day
  • D. Four up to four times a day

3. "Do not exceed stated dosage". Which of the following means the same as exceed?

  • A. Have less than
  • B. Take
  • C. Repeat
  • D. Have more than

Numeracy Level One

A group of local people formed a syndicate to enter the National Lottery. They won the jackpot! This was a headline in the Town Crier: Local Workers Share 8.5m

1. How much is this in figures?

  • A. 85,000
  • B. 850,000
  • C. 8,500,000
  • D. 85,000,000

2. This was the second time a local syndicate had won the Lottery jackpot. A year ago, five workers at a garden centre won 1,660,000. How much did each of the five workers get?

  • A. 31,000
  • B. 33,200
  • C. 310,000
  • D. 332,000

3. Janine is paid for each complete quarter hour she works. She works seven hours and 40 minutes one day. How long will she be paid for?

  • A. Seven hours
  • B. Seven and a half hours
  • C. Seven and three-quarter hours
  • D. Eight hours


  • Literacy Level One: C, C, D
  • Numeracy Level One: C, D, B

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See also:

18 Nov 00 | Education
Kentucky tackles high illiteracy
22 Jan 01 | Education
How adult learning changed a life
29 Sep 00 | Education
Bad memories stop adult learners
27 Jan 01 | Education
Teacher test: How would you fare?
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