Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

How we work

The main elements of RaPAL’s work are the publication of three journals annually, other occasional publications, and the organisation of at least one event each year, at which we hold the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of members. Through this work, we encourage communication between those working on literacy issues with adults. We especially look for opportunities to increase learner participation in research and publishing activities. Our membership network engages in consultation.

We critically examine the assumptions on which ABE (Adult Basic Education) practice is based, through encouraging and publicising a broad range of reflective research. Such research helps us to articulate the theory behind our practice; to keep asking questions about the significance of literacy in people’s lives; to challenge the political uses of common myths about literacy (such as: that lack of literacy causes unemployment; that lack of literacy means low intelligence; that parents pass literacy difficulties onto their children; that literacy can be adequately defined and measured as a narrow set of skills).

Because it is not enough just to ask questions, we work to make other organisations aware of RaPAL. We link with sympathetic organisations working with literacy in all parts of the educational system (including HE and FE) and in community contexts. We particularly value international links which enable us to compare experiences and learn from other countries.

Our current priorities are participation in national and international debates about literacy, to develop and publicise alternative views of literacy and to contribute to the professional development of staff in adult education.

The main organisational structure of RaPAL is the Working Group, an informal collective that meets in different locations around the country. Two sub-groups deal with different aspects of the work: organisation and development, and publications. Each of these groups arranges its own meetings and minutes. All members of the Working Group meet together at the AGM and for one other meeting each year.

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