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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
Drive to raise basic skills
man on computer
Up to seven million UK adults are functionally illiterate
The Prince's Trust is hoping to reach out to youngsters who leave school with no GCSEs with a 5m scheme to help improve their basic skills.

The trust, the charity for young people set up by the Prince of Wales, will invest the money over three years in school clubs for under-achievers and in basic skills training for those taking part in its programmes.

The Trust plans to double the number of club places it funds to 12,000 a year in 600 schools by 2005.

The announcement comes as thousands of teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are getting their GCSE results this week.

Approximately one in 20 do not get any GCSEs and government research suggests these youngsters are more likely to end up unemployed, in prison or in poor health.

'Downward spiral'

Chief executive of the Prince's Trust, Tom Shebbeare, said investing in young people was vital.

"Exam results season is meant to be a joyous time but for young people leaving school without qualifications it may be the beginning of a lifelong struggle to find work.

"The result can be a downward spiral towards loss of self-confidence, and even crime, homelessness and drug use.

"All of us feel the impact," he said.

Gremlins drive

Meanwhile the Department for Education was launching its latest drive to reach adults who struggle with reading, writing and basic maths.

By 2004, the government wants to see 750,000 adults attending basic skills courses.

Estelle Morris, Education Secretary
Estelle Morris is urging adults to improve their basic skills
Research suggests up to seven million adults in the UK are "functionally illiterate".

And two years ago, research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) placed the UK 14th of 20 developed countries ranked according to adult reading and literacy standards.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, said many of those seven million adults would be seeing their sons and daughters getting GCSEs later this week.

Quality of life

"One in five of the adult population does not have the skills of an average 11 year old yet they are very good at hiding this from friends and family," said Ms Morris.

"But a lack of basic skills has a major effect on their quality of life.

"They can't get a good job, they earn less money, they are more likely to suffer illness and can't get involved in everyday activities."

Ms Morris encouraged anyone who struggled with their literacy and numeracy to sign up for a free course.

"For some people, signing up for a basic skills course could be the first stepping stone to getting their own GCSEs," she said.

An information pack called Get On is available by calling a free phone number - 08000 150 650

See also:

03 Apr 00 | Education
25 Mar 99 | Education
22 Jan 01 | Education
22 May 00 | Education
22 Jan 01 | Education
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