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Targeted investment needed to improve UK's basic skills, says UCU

29 January 2009

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UCU today urged the government to allocate funding for basic skills to the areas that need it most.

The union agreed with the assessment from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that this government has done much to try and improve basic skills, but also that there are still too many adults without basic literacy and numeracy.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government has been right to invest money in improving the skills of adult learners, but much more work still has to be done. The number of adults without functional English and maths remains deeply shocking. There needs to be sustained investment in basic skills to repair that damage and help the generation that was allowed to leave school without basic qualifications.

'The committee rightly points out that low levels of achievement with adult literacy go back over decades, but in the last couple of years 1.4m adults have been lost from adult learning. We have to recognise that one size does not fit all and that people who do not wish to use traditional routes to learning still have access to the classes they desperately need. UCU is a founder member of the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (CALL), formed to fight cuts to adult education, and we will be putting pressure on the government to defend and promote lifelong learning.
 
'UCU members do a lot of incredible work with adults looking to pick up new skills and we are committed to working with the government to further improve standards. However, ministers have to move away from target-driven funding and allocate money to the lower level programmes that really need it. In tough economic times low-skilled people are traditionally the hardest hit and it's essential that we increase access to education for them.'

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