Australia: literacy deficit in undergraduates threatens knowledge economy

IlliteracyIn a passionate commentary published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian researcher draws attention to a worrying literary deficit among undergraduate students. Dr Russell Marks, Honorary Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University, claims that, despite numerous educational reforms and the high test scores required for entry to Higher Education, “a majority of 18-year-olds who enrol in most first-year humanities subjects are  unable to reliably construct a simple sentence”.

While teaching higher-level analytical skills such as critical analysis of discursive structures and academic essay writing skills are the bread and butter of academic teaching, many university tutors “are spending precious time giving crash-courses in English grammar instead of  leading discussions about the topics at hand”.

He warns that the school system’s failure to provide students with basic literacy skills puts at risk an increasingly knowledge-based economy and deprives individuals of the tools to participate fully as citizens and workers.

Read the article ‘Time to declare war on illiteracy’ to find out more.

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