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Basic literacy and numeracy skills in Aust schools



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PRESS RELEASE THE SENATE

STATEMENT BY SENATOR PETER BAUME SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND YOUTH AFFAIRS

Greater emphasis should be given to the attainment of basic literacy and numeracy skills in Australian schools.

Young Australians are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the pressures of a rapidly changing technological society without the further impediment of inadequate training in these fundamental skills.

Concern is being expressed by business and industry and higher education authorities about the standards of literacy and numeracy achieved by students leaving secondary schools.

It is particularly worrying that many tertiary institutions have found it necessary to include remedial English classes for underĀ­ graduates .

The Liberal and National Parties believe there is a need for a concerted, national program to address this serious problem.

We have included a Basic Competencies Program as an integral part of our new education policy.

The aim of the program is to ensure that no young Australian leaves school without mastering basic literacy and numeracy skills.

In co-operation with the States, a Coalition Federal Government would:

- establish the dimension of illiteracy and innumeracy in school students;

- ensure that remedial action is directed toward those students who have not achieved a basic competency in reading, writing and calculation; and

- make remedial assistance more readily available to those who have left school and wish to strengthen their basic literacy and numeracy skills.

The Opposition believes that the debate over literacy and numeracy should not be directed at whether standards have declined or not.

Instead we want to ensure that action is taken so that all Australians have the maximum opportunity to play an active role in our future. Social, cultural, educational and economic opportunity is out of reach for those who cannot read, write, express themĀ­

selves and calculate adequately.

Perth 17 May 1984

Contact: Keith Kessell (09) 325 4882