Attendants of Adult Literacy Programs in Germany - Reaching Functional Illiterates

Attendants of Adult Literacy Programs in Germany - Reaching Functional Illiterates

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Attendants of Adult Literacy Programs in Germany -
Reaching Functional Illiterates


Alphabetisation and literacy programs have gained importance in the last decades. The last PIAAC study exploring adult skills in OECD Countries showed that there are relatively high numbers of people with only the most basic level of literacy or below. Germany also has a high number of illiterates (Grotlüschen & Riekmann, 2012, Rosenbladt & Bilger, 2011, Schneider & Ernst, 2009) and below average performance of literacy (OECD, 2013). As this phenomenon has been present for some time there are many traditional literacy courses as well as anonymous online learning platforms. Nevertheless these courses are only attended by one percent of the illiterates in Germany (Schneider & Ernst, 2009). In the following I want to answer the question of why the literacy courses in Germany reach only so few people. Thus, I am going to describe the term of illiteracy before investigating the course attendants and their different biographical data. Also, I will discuss possible reasons for course termination.


When talking about illiteracy there is a distinction between functional and primary illiterate, with the latter being persons that have absolutely no skills of reading and writing in any language and the former having possibly received some years of basic education but currently no more than the most basic writing and reading skills (OECD, 2013, Grotlüschen & Riekmann 2012). This may lead to devastating limitations of everyday life and professional life as well as dependence on others or isolating aspects. In this paper I will only refer to functional illiterates. There are 4.4 million functional illiterates with German as their first...

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Rosenbladt, B. von (2012): Schriftschwäche als Handicap – Zur sozialen Verortung des funktionalen Analphabetismus in Deutschland, Report - Zeitschrift für Weiterbildungsforschung, 35(2), p. 73 - 89.

Rosenbladt, B. von & Bilger, F. (2011a): Erwachsene in Alphabetisierungskursen der Volkshochschulen. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Befragung (AlphaPanel) [Brochure]. Retrieved May 16, 2014 from

Schneider & Ernst (2009): Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Befragung von Volkshochschulen -Reichweite der Alphabetisierungskurse, Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung, 09/1, p.37-39.

Sparks, B. &. Butterwick, S.(2004). Culture, Equity and Learning. In G. Foley, Dimensions of Adult Learning (p. 276-289). McGraw-Hill Education.

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