Write a letter to your local member of parliament on the importance of supporting literacy for all

 

The 8th of September is the 51st International Literacy Day.

VALBEC invites adult LLN teachers and students to celebrate International Literacy Day with an old-style hand writing letter activity.

Although emails and other online methods are now used to communicate with politicians, letters are still considered a highly effective way to get messages across to elected officials.

We are encouraging both teachers and students to show our politicians that we think adult literacy is an important social and political issue in Australia.

Write to your local member of parliament

  1. Locate your local Member of Parliament

State http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/electorates/

Federal http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

  1. Address your letter appropriately

Envelope
For example

The Hon. Gayle Tierney
Minister for Training and Skills

Greeting/Salutation
Dear Minister

Conclusion
Yours faithfully

  1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the subject line of the message and re-stated in the first paragraph. For example;

“I am writing to advocate for increased support of adult literacy programs.”

  1. Educate your local member on the impact that low adult literacy has on the community/society.
  2. Educate you local member on the positive impact that adult education programs have on the education, health and employment of people.
  3. Share personal stories if possible. Letters have more impact if real stories are shared.

For Teachers

Write individual letters or a group letter from the team.

Write generally about adult literacy or choose a particular focus. i.e. family literacy or work and literacy.

Requests could include increase budget, hours of study, ease eligibility requirements, etc.

Why write?

State and Federal leaders make crucial decisions that affect the adult literacy field. These decisions include funding, eligibility for programs, assessment systems, and qualifications of who delivers adult literacy programs. These decisions all affect our ability to deliver effective adult literacy measures for the community.

Adult Literacy Facts and Figures to consider

  • Around 44% of Australian adults, 7.3 million people, lack the literacy skills required for everyday life. The situation is worse with numeracy with 53.5% of the adult population below proficiency levels. (Results PIACC survey)
  • 1 in 3 Australians have literacy levels skills low enough to make them vulnerable to unemployment and social exclusion. This can entrench cycles of disadvantage that exclude these people from the workforce.
  • In September 2010 it was estimated up to 2.7 million people over 15 years-old were unemployed, or underemployed, because they lacked the required literacy skills.
  • Emerging economy jobs are requiring more workers to more literate in a range of ways including digital literacy, occupational health and safety and industry terminology.
  • Adults with adequate literacy and numeracy skills have better outcomes in employment, financial status, health, happiness and educational attainment.
  • There is a strong link between parents’ literacy and numeracy levels and their children’s literacy and numeracy outcomes.

Letter Template for Teachers

Your Name
Address
City, State and Post Code

Insert date

The Honorable [Insert representative’s name]
Street or PO Box
City, State, Post Code

Dear Minister [Insert last name],

I am writing to ask for your support in Adult literacy programs across Australia.

Research shows that around 1 in 3 Australians have literacy levels skills low enough to make them vulnerable to unemployment and social exclusion. This low literacy can entrench cycles of disadvantage that exclude these people from the workforce.

Literacy underpins the skills of all learning in education, work and life. The lack of literacy not only impacts significantly on the individual, their family and community but has a detrimental impact on the economy, health and resilience of the nation. Investing in adult literacy education is an investment in the nation for now and the future.

I have been teaching in this field for 20 years now and have seen first-hand the significant impact that adult education programs have had in people’s lives. People who have missed out on schooling in their early years can develop skills in reading and writing for pleasure, family and work. They can develop confidence which then enables then to continue learning, developing skills and sharing their ideas, skills and knowledge.

Thank you for the time in reading my request for support.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Lesson ideas for students

Warmer/intro – engage students in activity

Elicit and discuss the following:

  • Who governs us in Australia? State, Federal, Local?
  • Who represents us in parliament? What is an electorate?
  • List electorates of students. Where will we find this info?
  • What are the names of the class’s parliamentary representatives? State? Federal?

Explore and research the above info

  • Students find out the names and addresses of their local politician.
  • How many represent the class?

Explaining and planning a letter

  • How does a hand written letter differ from a text message and an email?
  • Parts of a letter – own address, date, salutation, parts of the body, close, signature. This could be an ordering activity.
  • Phrases, vocab used in first paragraph, own experience, what you want the politician to do, how to close. Elicit this info or use some matching activities.
  • What would the class like to say to politician? Write some phrases on the board.
  • Select some stats from the letter-writing guide.

Elaborate – students write own letter

  • Write a plan – 1st draft – check / conference with teacher – 2nd draft
  • Address envelope and post.

Evaluate

  • What have we learned by doing this activity?
  • Electorates, my local politician, letter writing, how to contact my local rep, etc.

Variation

  • Students may want to write ‘Happy International Literacy Day’ cards instead.
  • Similar but abbreviated information could be written in the cards.