World Literacy Summit: What Difference Would More Adult Learner Participation Have Made?

Claire Provost of The Guardian, writing for the Poverty Matters Blog, wonders about adult learner representation at the recent World Literacy Summit:

I wonder if the arguments made and suggestions proposed at the World Literacy Summit might have been different if the audience were, even slightly, more diverse. Crucially, there are few, if any, illiterate people and adult learners at the conference.

Short answer: Yes, they would have been.

Slightly longer answer: Compare, for example, Marty Finsterbusch’s Congressional testimony from 2009 regarding Title II of the Workforce Investment Act, the most critical federal legislation regarding adult literacy in the U.S., to the testimony of other witnesses. Marty is the Executive Director of VALUE, Voice of Adult Learners United to Educate, the only national nonprofit organization in the U.S. governed and operated by current and former adult literacy students.

P.S. Provost’s article is excellent, by the way, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in—or sometimes frustrated by—what sometimes seems to be an overemphasis on the economic investment argument for supporting adult literacy.