Adult Literacy: Monitoring and Evaluation for Practice and Policy
With the advent of the UN Literacy Decade launched in 2003, there is
increased emphasis on monitoring and evaluation of adult literacy around the globe.
The present paper presents an overview of the main approaches that have been taken to
measure adult literacy within and across countries. A particular focus of the present
review is to compare and contrast three models of literacy assessment: (1) the ‘‘traditional’’
model based largely on census enumeration, which has been used over recent
decades to collect national and regional rates of illiteracy; (2) the large-scale survey
techniques employed with the International Adult Literacy Survey and similar models;
and (3) an intermediate type of assessment that borrows from the previous two models,
and attempts to ‘‘tailor’’ the size and complexity of the survey methodology to the
policy questions needing answers (called the SQC model). The present paper suggests
that there is no single model or set of methods that are universally appropriate to
monitoring and measuring in adult literacy around the world, but that blending both
programmatic and comparative models through the SQC approach may bring greater
involvement in, and insight into, adult literacy evaluations.