15 Apr 2016

Literacy Lessons

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 15 April 2016
Jo Poland has set the The Adult Literacy Trust to help rural and isolated students.

Jo Poland has set the The Adult Literacy Trust to help rural and isolated students. Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Jo Poland suspects most people know someone hiding a literacy problem.

She's had a career teaching adults how to read and write.

"What really astonishes me is people who whose partners don't know they have a literacy problem. How do you manage to do that? How do you manage to live so closely to someone and hide the fact that you can't read and write? That's skillful," she says.

Jo says lots of people don't know how to spell their children's names. "Some people don't know how to spell their own names."

Jo has set up The Adult Literacy Trust, a charitable trust that aimed at improving the reading and writing skills of  people living in isolated, rural locations or who are isolated because of an illness or disability.

The Adult Literacy Trust Office at Port Waikato

The Adult Literacy Trust Office at Port Waikato Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The Trust now has more than 50 students dotted from the bottom of the South Island to the top of the North, who work with volunteer coaches who are also sprinkled throughout the country.

Daily coaching sessions take place via Skype if technology and internet connections permit, or by fax and phone and sometimes even mail is used.

The tuition is free to students.

"One of the most compelling things you notice is they are not stupid. They think they are dumb but they're not," Jo says.

Young mother Jaz reached out to Jo for help when she was pregnant with her son. She'd left school early with very few literacy skills and was living in a small North Island beach-side village.  

"I wanted to be able to read and write and help my son with his homework and be able to read him books."

After three months of coaching, Jaz's reading ability had improved by three years.

She can now sound out words, read maps and signs, can text and can read the notices at her son's kindy. She is also reading him books.

"That makes me a very happy mother," she says.
 
http://www.adultliteracy.ws/

http://www.literacy.org.nz/

http://www.taranakiadultliteracy.org.nz/

http://www.adultliteracy.org.nz/

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