The Centre’s Executive Director, Linda Shohet, has been invited to participate in the Illiteracy: Grand National  Cause 2013 National and European Conference, 13 to 15 November 2013, in Lyon, France. This conference will also welcome representatives from other European countries. As we discovered at our 2013 Summer Institute, France has taken an approach to basic skills very different from that of Canada, the US, and the OECD. While PIAAC looks at variations in the skill levels of the adult population as a whole, French national surveys and interventions have focused on identifying and helping adults with the lowest skill levels.

The conference is the culmination of a national mobilization against “illiteracy” in France:

“ Because public opinion needs to be better informed about this widespread phenomenon that is still something of a taboo in our society, because it is necessary to explain that we can continue to learn at any age and that solutions do exist, and because only collective action can allow us to improve and strengthen the measures to prevent and fight illiteracy, the “Fighting Illiteracy Together, Grand National Cause 2013” alliance brought together by the ANLCI, has been working hard throughout 2013: For the first time in France, a large national awareness campaign has been publicized by the press, radio, television and on the internet.” (ANCLI, 2013)

 This mobilization also included regional conferences involving more than 4,000 participants, held between June and September 2013.

 One of the findings of PIAAC was that in every country surveyed, those who already have high skill levels are the ones who benefit most from adult education opportunities; those with low skills benefit from the least. There may be advantages to focusing attention on the people with the lowest skill levels.