ADULT LITERACY PROGRAM


Tracey Carter

SUNSHINE COAST LIBRARIES

Sunshine Coast Libraries make literacy learning for adults meaningful, motivational and successful. The Adult Literacy Program helps improve the lives of a large number of adults in our community who have difficulty with every day, functional literacy. Sunshine Coast Libraries helps people to read and write and that, in turn, gives them the skills required to do such things as help their children with homework, understand a medical prescription or read a bus timetable.

Literacy students enter the Library program via referral from job search agencies, Centrelink, Court diversion programs plus other avenues including word of mouth. Library staff assess the student’s needs, interests, skills and learning goals. This means library staff can match each student with an appropriate tutor; someone who may have common interests or have expertise in an area that will assist the student. Students are given the option of participating in one-on-one learning sessions or learning in a class environment.

Over one hundred volunteer literacy tutors support the Adult Literacy Program. They generously volunteer their time to be trained as official literacy tutors by completing a training course consisting of ten weekly sessions plus a practical requirement. It is a substantial training program and forty new volunteers are trained every year. Once the volunteers are trained they are ‘matched’ with a literacy student. Thereafter volunteer tutors and their students are supported with learning materials, session planning advice and library resources. Every day across the library service numerous volunteers work to improve the literacy skills of community members who struggle to read and write.

Classes and one-on-one sessions are meticulously planned and prepared to cater for the very divergent needs of each student. Some students have specific goals such as getting their driver’s licence or writing a letter. Some students learn to do their banking for the first time while others read their first picture book or write their first sentence.

Classes run during school terms and culminate at the end of each year with a celebration for both tutors and students. This event allows Libraries to congratulate students on their efforts during the year. Students are presented with a Certificate, and volunteer tutors are acknowledged for the generous contribution they make to the program and to people’s lives.