Scotland

Scots literacy levels revealed

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Image caption 73.3% of Scots have an internationally recognised level of reading and writing.

Scotland's adult literacy levels are on a par with the world's most advanced economies, a new survey has suggested.

The Scottish Survey of Adult Literacy showed that 73.3% of the population had an internationally recognised level of reading and writing.

Women below the age of 55 had the strongest literacy levels, while Scots aged 26-35 had better skills than any other age group.

The results will inform the Scottish government's Literacy Action Plan.

Despite the high levels of literacy, the survey also showed that more than a quarter, 26.7% of Scots experienced "occasional challenges" due to their lack of literacy skills, while 3.6% were classed as having "very poor" skills.

The data said that those with stronger reading and writing skills were more closely associated better paying jobs and living in less deprived areas.

'Serious message'

The government's Literacy Action Plan is being launched to raise standards from early years education through to adult learning.

It will be published in the autumn.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, said: "Literacy is an essential skill to unlock learning and lead to improved life chances, so the publication, which highlights robust levels of literacy in Scotland, should be welcomed.

"However, as encouraging as the findings are, we will not be complacent on this issue.

"There are a small number of people facing serious challenges with literacy in their daily lives and the Scottish government is working to address the issue of social and economic exclusion faced by adults with low literacy skills through the upcoming Literacy Action Plan."

Labour education spokesman Des McNulty said: "We must break down the barriers to literacy.

"That is why we have called on ministers to ensure that the forthcoming literacy action plan takes forward the recommendations of the Literacy Commission which Labour set up.

"As well as making sure all our children are literate and numerate, we have an obligation to adults who missed out by supporting schemes that tackle adult illiteracy such as those run by the trade unions."

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "Literacy levels are a very important measure of the social and economic well-being of any society and the fact that adult levels of illiteracy in Scotland are so high should send out a very serious message to the Scottish government.

"It is time for the SNP to listen and learn."

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