The Role of Adult Basic and Literacy Education Essays

The Role of Adult Basic and Literacy Education Essays

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The Role of Adult Basic and Literacy Education


With the passage of the 1988 Family Support Act (FSA), adult basic and literacy education was linked to welfare reform. Based on experimentation with welfare reform during the previous decade, the FSA created the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program (JOBS). JOBS, which requires states to make educational services available to welfare recipients, was created in response to the general consensus that welfare recipients are not well prepared to enter the work force (Cohen et al. 1994). One of its major underlying assumptions is "that a strong foundation of literacy and basic skills is critical to the successful transition to employment and self-sufficiency for AFDC parents-especially young parents" (National Institute for Literacy 1994, p. 2).

The educational and skill levels of welfare recipients as a group are lower than that of the general adult population. For example, compared to 27 percent of the general adult population, nearly 50 percent of welfare recipients do not have a high school diploma (NIFL 1994). Also, 30 percent of welfare recipients have basic skills below those of the minimum skill level of all women in the lowest occupational skill areas (Cohen et al. 1994). Thus, to the architects of the FSA, a logical avenue for assisting welfare recipients in achieving economic self-sufficiency was to provide those who needed it adult basic and literacy education services through JOBS. The need for this assistance has subsequently been supported: an estimated two-thirds of JOBS enrollees require basic skills enhancement before they are able to enter the work force (ibid.). The other third are placed in employment more immediately, either in the private secto...


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...elfare as We Know It?" Summary Briefing Paper. Washington, DC: NIFL, June 1994. (ED 372 279)

Pauly, E.; Long, D. A.; and Martinson, K. Linking Welfare and Education: A Study of New Programs in Five States. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, May 1992. (ED 346 266)

Pauly, E., and Martinson, K. "Adult Education-A New Stimulus from Welfare Reform." Adult Learning 5, no. 2 (November-December 1993): 15-16.

Reder, S., and Wikelund, K. R. Steps to Success: Literacy Development in a Welfare-to-Work Program. Portland, OR: Literacy, Language & Communication Program, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, November 1994.

Wikelund, K. R. Motivations for Learning: Voices of Women Welfare Reform Participants. NCAL Technical Report TR93-10. Philadelphia: National Center on Adult Literacy, University of Pennsylvania, October 1993. (ED 364 748).

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