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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 00:54 GMT 01:54 UK
Bad maths blights bank holidays
Tommy Walsh
Tommy Walsh: Backing the literacy and numeracy drive
As keen gardeners and DIY fans get down to their bank holiday fun, research suggests millions of people will be buying too much paint and wasting wallpaper or seeds because of problems with basic literacy and numeracy.

A study for the Department of Education's "Get On" campaign found nearly one in three adults (29%) in England could not calculate the floor area of a room in feet or metres - with or without calculators or paper and pens.

Gardeners are no better off.

The research also found that over 10 per cent of adults questioned could not understand the instructions on a packet of seeds.


This problem is all too familiar and can lead to wasted time and money

Tommy Walsh
Tommy Walsh, star of BBC TV's Groundforce said: "Gardening and DIY are incredibly popular, especially over bank holidays, and can be very relaxing and rewarding.

"But, as we all know, it can be really infuriating when things go wrong - if you find that you've not got enough cement to complete your patio, or you've bought too much wallpaper for your front room.

"This problem is all too familiar and can lead to wasted time and money. I'd encourage anyone who struggles with instructions or numbers this weekend, to call 08000 150 650 to find out more about enrolling on a free course to improve their skills."

The government is using TV personalities like Tommy Walsh in the 'Get On' campaign to try to encourage people with numeracy and literacy problems to sign up for training.

paint
Does it add up?
The campaign is part of the government's "Skills for Life" strategy, which aims to raise skills levels in 750,000 adults by 2004.

The education minister with responsibility for adult skills, John Healey, said the research showed that millions of people struggle with literacy and numeracy problems, rather than improving their lives.

"Being unable to calculate an area, or correctly read instructions means that you could be wasting money on unnecessary materials or making mistakes, which will undo all of your hard work," he said.

"But it's not just DIY and gardening that problems with literacy and numeracy can affect - people with good skills in these areas could earn much more money over their working life than someone with poorer skills.

"There are thousands of free courses available across the country to help improve literacy and numeracy."

See also:

22 Jan 01 | Education
How adult learning changed a life
03 Apr 00 | Education
Boost for basic skills
31 Oct 00 | Education
New ways of learning
22 May 00 | Education
Basic skills for adult learners
29 Sep 00 | Education
Bad memories stop adult learners
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