Literacy standards fall among young Australians

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 September, 2008, 12:00am

The literacy skills of young Australians have fallen over the past 10 years, according to an annual report compiled by the country's Bureau of Statistics.

The report says the proportion of young people aged 15-24 with a level of literacy needed to function well in society fell nearly 4 percentage points between 1996 and 2006. Yet literacy levels had remained fairly constant or had risen in all other age groups.

The Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey focused on prose literacy which was defined as the ability to understand and use information in narrative texts, including newspapers. Those surveyed were ranked in five levels, with level one the lowest and level three rated 'the minimum level required to meet the increasingly complex demands of a knowledge society'.

The report said about half of Australians aged 15-74 had literacy skills below level three and only one in four were at level three.

For those aged 15-19, the proportion with literacy skills in the top two bands fell from 14 per cent to 9 per cent.