Adults with poor skills are to be paid to study

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The Independent Online

More than 100,000 adults who lack literacy and numeracy skills will be paid up to £30 a week to go back to college under a government blueprint to be unveiled tomorrow.

More than 100,000 adults who lack literacy and numeracy skills will be paid up to £30 a week to go back to college under a government blueprint to be unveiled tomorrow.

The plan is part of an attempt to cut the alarming illiteracy rate in Britain which has led to an estimated seven million adults lacking basic maths, English or IT skills. Only Poland has a higher illiteracy rate in a survey of 30 Western nations.

The means-tested scheme, based on the existing education maintenance allowance plan which gives 16- to 19-year-olds from poor homes a similar amount if they continue in full-time education, is to be proposed in a White Paper on improving skills to be published tomorrow.

Leaders of colleges estimate that more than 100,000 adults will take advantage of the scheme.

The Government will also give a new entitlement to free learning to all adults with low basic skills - although not everyone will be eligible for the new grants on top. Free tuition will be available to all those who leave school without five top grade GCSE passes or their vocational equivalent.

In addition, ministers are offering a similar entitlement to 19- to 30-year-olds seeking to obtain higher level skills - the equivalent of two A-levels.

John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, which represents further education and sixth-form colleges, said of grants: "They do encourage more students to come in."

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