Letter: Brain-teaser

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Fay Weldon suggests that the illiterate will always be with us.

I accept that for a small section of our society even a fairly basic level of literacy may be too challenging. But that cannot be an excuse for not tackling the appalling level of adult literacy in this country.

Around 7 million adults in England are estimated to have poorer literacy skills than the average 11-year-old - to put it more crudely, something like one in five adults in England do not know how to use the Yellow Pages to find a plumber or cannot read the instructions on a medicine bottle. Many of these adults have the ability to improve their literacy skills but for a variety of reasons missed out at school.

That is why we are developing a national strategy to tackle the issue of adult literacy. In November I announced measures to improve basic skills education for adults. David Blunkett will be announcing the full strategy next year.


(Baroness Blackstone)

Minister of State

Department for Education and Employment

London SW1