Getting back to our roots: Literacy for empowerment

SBS • 'Living Black'

What links Cuba and a town in western NSW?

Keynote speaker, Associate Professor Bob Boughton, University of New England, has been closely involved with this project.


The Western Australian Adult Literacy Council (WAALC) invites you to participate in the 2013 state conference to be held at Central Institute of Technology on the 18 and 19th July 2013.

The theme of the conference, Getting back to our roots: Literacy for empowerment is a reference to the ideologies and practices that underpinned Australian adult literacy initiatives in the early years, during the 1970s and 80s.

Back then, adult literacy initiatives were political activities that contributed to empowering individuals, and their communities, and to addressing injustice and inequality. At that time, prior to the development of adult literacy curricula and national skills frameworks, practitioners taught the literacy and numeracy skills that learners wanted and needed to use in their real lives. Successful learning was evidenced by the positive changes and impacts on people's personal, family, working and community lives.

Empowerment as an outcome of, and reason for, adult literacy endeavour has not gone away. But it is easy to see how practitioners coming into the field struggle with student-centred practice, given the extent to which our work is now determined by skills and assessment frameworks.

The challenge for practitioners is to find ways to deliver learner-centred strategies within the context of meeting system-centred requirements that are, in many ways, at odds with effective adult literacy teaching.