NALA from Ireland elaborated guidelines for good adult literacy work defining the 5 most important principles of quality work in adult literacy.
1. Adult literacy work is based on a philosophy of adult education which is concerned with personal development and social action.
Because literacy in modern society is a complex issue, adult literacy work must enable students to connect their literacy and numeracy learning with the reality of their daily lives, and with past experience. Therefore, personal development is an integral part of the learning process. In addition, literacy learning may lead individuals and groups to relate their own experiences to wider social issues.
2. Adult literacy learning is an active and expressive process. Students have the right to explore their needs and interests, set their own goals and decide how, where and when they wish to learn.
Adult literacy learning is most successful when the students are actively involved in the process and are encouraged to express their ideas and draw on their experiences. Students should also be enabled to explore the methods and materials which help them to learn most effectively and to take an active part in defining their goals and planning the learningprogramme. This has implications for training of tutors, teaching and learning approaches, choosing materials, including use of technology, and the assessment of learning. Some students benefit from the range of flexible options that are available such as blended learning, non-centre based learning, additional technological supports and distance learning.
3. Adult literacy work respects different beliefs, cultures and ways of being. An ethical code of trust and confidentiality underpins all aspects of the work.
This addresses the central issue of respect for difference and diversity. Adults who return to learning come from many different social and cultural backgrounds. Adult literacy tutors and organisations need to operate from a clear position of respect for different beliefs, languages, cultures and ways of life. This variety should be seen as providing opportunities for learning for all participants in a learning group or programme.
Confidentiality and respect must be established from the outset in order for students to feel safe. They can then begin to develop the trust that is needed if meaningful learning is to take place.
4. Students’ knowledge and skills are vital for the effective organisation of adult literacy work. Students should have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of provision.
Students have experience and knowledge which are essential for the successful planning, development and evaluation of adult literacy provision. Their views and understanding need to inform the way provision is organised, particularly publicity, course options, student support, resources and social activities. Students should be actively encouraged to become involved in the organisation, for example, to take a seat on the board. However, some students choose to attend only for tuition and this choice should be respected.
5. Adults learn best when the decision to return to learning is their own and the environment is supportive, relaxed and friendly.
Adults who decide to work on their literacy have taken an important and often difficult step. Students are more likely to attend regularly and stay in tuition when they see that their needs and concerns are at the heart of the organisation, and that good tutoring and resources provide the best possible conditions for learning. Ideally adult literacy learning should not be linked to welfare benefits or employment. Students based in other settings, such as training workshops, the workplace or in prisons, should have the right to decide whether they wish to work on their literacy skills.
Adults learn best when they enjoy the process. Learning provides opportunities for new social relationships. Adults and young people often find that their learning benefits from the chance to relax informally with other students and tutors. In addition, interaction in a learning group contributes to the learning process, and to the development of both the individual students and the organisation.