Literacy Aotearoa to hold giant game of Scrabble at Wellington Station
photo: Fraser Wall and Helen Slater at Literacy Aotearoa Wellington. Both will attend the giant scrabble game at Wellington Railway Station.
Almost 20 per cent of New Zealand adults who have difficulty reading have never told anyone.
Literacy Aotearoa Wellington manager Bridget Murphy said that poor adult literacy remained a shameful position of too many New Zealanders. "It is a hidden, silent thing.”
photo: Fraser Wall, 41, has been attending Aotearoa Literacy for the past two years.
"People will know someone who struggles, but have never had that conversation."
In June an international study ranked New Zealand adults among the most literate in the OECD. New Zealand placed fourth in adult literacy skills out of 33 countries surveyed.
However, more than a million working-age New Zealanders lack the reading and writing skills needed for everyday life.
Next week, Literacy Aotearoa will hold a giant scrabble game at Wellington Railway Station, an annual tradition that brings adult literacy issues into the open.
Fraser Wall, 41, was very shy when he first turned up at the Literacy Aotearoa Wellington office two years ago.
He had seen a council flyer about the program and decided to give it a try.
He learns multiplication, computer skills, reading and Te Reo.
"I didn't know anything about maths," Wall said. "I love maths now."
He is also a big fan of scrabble.
Since studying at Literacy Aotearoa he has picked up part-time work and has gained a stack of certificates for each course he has graduated from.
Literacy Aotearoa provides free literacy and numeracy courses to more than 300 adults in Wellington each year.
Most of the students are aged 40 to 50 years old, but their oldest student is 91.
Helen Slater has been a tutor at the institute for almost ten years.
"Quite a lot of our students are incredibly bright," Slater said.
Many students fell behind in school for a complex set of reasons, such as home instability, but never had the chance to catch up on the education they missed.
There is no set curriculum for the adult literacy programme, but she would like one. There were not enough dedicated resources to adult learning in New Zealand and the organisation often relied on international resources, she said.
"Once people start to realise this is just as important as a curriculum for kids perhaps someone will develop one," Slater said.
* On September 8, Literacy Aotearoa Wellington will hold a giant scrabble game at Wellington Railway Station between 7.30am and midday to celebrate UNESCO International Literacy Day.
- The Wellingtonian