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Knowledges of adult literacy: surveying for competitiveness

International Journal of Educational Development Volume 19, Number 4 ISSN 0738-0593 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


The International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) is now the standard for assessing population literacy levels in industrialized countries. It uses elegant conceptual and methodological procedures to construct a literacy' as universal across individuals and situations, and to assess individual levels of literacy ability. Central among these procedures is the conception of reading ability as information-processing skills underlying the performance of diverse documentary tasks in aknowledge society' that ubiquitously demands these tasks. This conception builds into the knowledge of literacy a managerial or competitive' standpoint, interested in abilities to perform prespecified tasks within ruling social relations. In further requiring that for individuals to be ranked at a given level, they must be able tosight read' any task at that level of information-processing complexity, IALS makes tested literacy the counterpart of `flexibility' as a labour force attribute. Projects for literacy with democratic objectives require a broader conception, encompassing not only how courses of reading activity are done, but also how reading operates as moments of extended courses of action, including those aimed to develop people's capacities to control what they do.


Darville, R. Knowledges of adult literacy: surveying for competitiveness. International Journal of Educational Development, 19(4), 273-285. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 10, 2019 from .

This record was imported from International Journal of Educational Development on February 20, 2019. International Journal of Educational Development is a publication of Elsevier.

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