National Strategy for Literacy and Basic Education of Adults
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), together with the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, announced a joint National Strategy for Literacy and Basic Education of Adults last year. Meanwhile, the BMBF has launched a new initiative on workplace-oriented research and development in the area of literacy and basic education with funding of about 20 million euros for the period 2012 to 2015. The funding of over 54 projects is to contribute to the development of new ways to literacy and basic education in order to reduce the percentage of functional illiterates in Germany in the long term.
Please click here for the agreement on the National Strategy for Literacy and Basic Education of Adults in Germany between 2012 and 2016 (in German only).
Study on functional illiteracy
he results of a level-one survey (leo) on the extent of illiteracy in Germany was presented in Berlin on 28 February 2011.
The study done by Hamburg University found that about 2.3 million people in Germany can read or write single words but not entire sentences. All in all, over 4 percent of the working population in Germany are thus directly affected by illiteracy. The number of functional illiterates is far higher than was supposed: About 7.5 million, or 14 percent, of the German working population can read or write individual sentences, but are not able to understand coherent, even short texts such as work instructions. Adequate participation in social life is not possible if your are functionally illiterate. Past estimates assumed that about four million people are affected by functional illiteracy. The correct spelling of even common words, the study reveals, is a problem for about 21 million people in Germany, that is for almost 40 percent of the working population.
The level-one study (leo) was realized by Hamburg University under the 2010 supplementary survey on European continuing education "Adult Education Survey" (AES). In a random sample, over 7,000 persons aged 18 to 64 years were interviewed. For leo, this number was increased by an additional random sample of 1,350 persons in the lower educational levels.
The study provides for the first time national, reliable and differentiated data on literacy - i.e. the ability to deal with written text by reading and writing, by understanding and producing meaning- for the lowest competence levels of reading and writing. The research project of Hamburg University received funding of 1.3 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
"Workplace-oriented literacy and basic education of adults" funding priority
The new "Workplace-oriented literacy and basic education of adults" funding programme has a budget of about 20 million euros provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project period is until 2015.
The funding priority is split into three parts:
- Concepts and measures for workplace-oriented literacy and basic education
- Counselling and training for players in the working world and in the daily life of those concerned
- Continuing training programmes for trainers and lecturers in education programmes.
The BMBF is supported in this funding priority by the project management agency Projektträger im Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (PT-DLR). The PT-DLR's tasks include the constant monitoring and analysis of research and development and support translation of research results into practice.
The BMBF has launched the national information campaign "Reading & Writing - My Key to the World" to reach out to those concerned and to their environment, and to raise awareness among the general public. The BMBF is providing 5 million euros for this project. The partners of the strategy will support the campaign in their field of activities.
"Research and development of literacy and basic education" funding priority
The BMBF has been committed to literacy within its remit for decades. As early as in 2006, the BMBF readjusted its funding and pooled "Research and development of literacy and basic education of adults" in one funding priority.
There are 24 collaborative projects with over 100 research and development projects which receive funding of about 35 million euros (2007 - 2012). The projects listed in the National Strategy build on this fundamental knowledge gained when shaping the literacy work with adults.
Other BMBF initiatives and projects
- ich-will-lernen.de learning portal: The German Adult Education Association (DVV) developed the e-learning portal 'ich-will-lernen.de' with BMBF funding. The learning portal provides online exercises for literacy and basic education free of charge. Learners can use the portal anonymously if they wish as additional support for learning in contact courses at continuing education institutions. More than 290,000 learners have already registered with the portal, with about 15,000 users who are active five days a week. The "Writing" learning programme has addressed functional illiterates since 2004 and has become deeply entrenched in literacy work. It has been expanded to include modules preparing for a school-leaving qualification in adult life. A module for basic education in economics is currently being developed.
- The DVV trains the trainers in continuing education institutions free of charge in how to use the learning portal. Further information is available on the Internet sites of the Second Chance Online project portal and the learning portal.
- "ALFA-Mobil" project (Bundesverband Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung e.V.):
The ALFA-Mobil is a specially equipped vehicle which provides information and counselling locally. It targets those regions where few if any literacy programmes have been set up and supports the establishment of learning programmes.
Funding is also provided for conferences (Bundesverband Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung e.V.) as milestones in the national implementation of the UN Literacy Decade. This occurred in 2003 in Bernburg, in 2004 in Berlin, in 2005 in Frankfurt, in 2006 in Bonn, in 2007 in Hamburg, and in 2008 in Leipzig.
Bundesverband Alphabetisierung e.V. offers a counselling service for those concerned via its ALFA telephone. Information on reading and writing classes across Germany is provided under the phone number +49-0251-53 33 44.