INDEPENDENT NEWS

Report proves Economic Value of Literacy Programme

Published: Wed 25 Oct 2006 10:22 AM
CITY OF MANUKAU EDUCATION TRUST
MEDIA RELEASE
Ground breaking PWC Report proves Significant Economic Value of Family Literacy Programme
An average increase in each family’s wealth of $200.50 per week is one of the outcomes of a Manukau-based family literacy programme, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
Tackling and solving education and social issues in Manukau, New Zealand’s second-largest city, is critical for national economic development. In their report, released today, PWC quantifies the significant value of a unique family literacy programme that has been running in Manukau City for the past three years. 70% of the adults enrolled in the programme had no school qualifications. Since completing the programme 71% have had a reduced dependency on government agencies; moreover 67% have gone onto further study.
The Manukau Family Literacy Programme, developed by COMET (City of Manukau Education Trust) in partnership with AUT, is unique in that it breaks conventional models of education provision. It involves both parents and their children as learners and it crosses the boundaries of early childhood, compulsory and tertiary education sectors, within a partnership framework.
To date, there have been a total of 85 families in the programme. 30% of the participants were Maori and 66% Pasifiika. 92% of those enrolled have gained a qualification – the Certificate in Introduction to Early Childhood Education – that offers them a pathway out of poverty.
The PWC report highlights the significant success of the Manukau Family Literacy Programme model. Bernardine Vester, CEO of COMET, says that the PWC report has been a ground breaker in that it is the first report of its kind in New Zealand. “We are not aware of any other literacy programmes in New Zealand that have measured the longer-term economic value of outcomes. 71% of these families were on a government benefit at the start. Following graduation, there has been a net change of income of $200.50 per week, per family. Overall, the PWC report showed a significant return on investment of $9.41 for every dollar over a staggered period of 30 years.”
“We know that there are 4000 families in the Manukau area alone where adults have no qualifications or low-level (fifth form achievement only). We have up to 15 schools and early childhood centres wanting to initiate the programme in Manukau, and have had interest from potential partners in Gisborne, Waikato, Northland and Hauraki,” says Vester.
Suzanne Snively, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers said that "The success of the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET) Family Literacy Programme is that it focuses its resources on gaining experience about the best ways to engage with people to improve literacy outcomes. An economic value of the outcomes of this programme has been estimated from the survey of participants about the outcomes for them which included enrolment for further study, reduced requirement for government-provided income support, increased children's aspirations and a number of other positive benefits. Based on this, the conservative estimate of $9.41 gained for every dollar invested provides clear evidence that the investment by COMET in this programme is a good one."
The PWC report refers to international research which has determined that key to the educational success of children is the educational achievement of the mother or principal caregiver. “That is why the family-based cross-sector model which focuses on educating adults, school children and younger children together is so important. COMET’s experience has shown that ‘hard to reach parents’ can become highly motivated to become involved in learning that is relevant to their daily responsibilities as parents,” says Vester.
“The PWC report records an increase in both the aspirations of the children and of the parents’ aspirations for their children, with 38% showing a significant increase. Moreover the children’s school achievement can be expected to result in reduced future welfare costs, a decrease in alternative education spending and an increase in their future income.”
The family literacy programme costs $14,118 per family for a year, compared to $11,100 for one youth on an alternative education programme.
COMET, in partnership with AUT, has an application into the TEC Foundation Learning Pool for $1.47 million to ensure that a further 100 families can be offered the Manukau Family Literacy programme in 2007. A decision on the success of this application is due on 15 November.
ENDS

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