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Essential Skills

In this document, the expression essential skills encompasses those of basic skills, key skills and key competencies.

In this document, the expression essential skills encompasses those of basic skills, key skills and key competencies.

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European Commission

The European Commission has produced a series of reference documents:

EAEA (European Association of Education of Adults)

The European Association of Education of Adults (EAEA) has produced a Briefing on Basic Skills All adults should be enabled to develop and maintain key competencies throughout their lives.

Strategic Statement on Key Competencies


  • The National Literacy Secretariat of Human Resources Development Canada (NLS) has produced a Snapshot of Literacy in Canada which highlights some of the literacy issues.



European associations and networks

  • The European Association of Education of Adults (EAEA): has produced a series of policy documents (see policies).
  • The European Institute for E-Learning (EIfEL") is leading Key-Pal", a project exploring the use of ePortfolios to support the development and accreditation of essential skills.

Europe (per country)


  • The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is a membership organisation with voluntary status, concerned with national co-ordination, training and policy development in adult literacy work in Ireland. It was established in 1980 and since 1985 it has received a grant to operate a national office.

United Kingdom

  • The Basic Skills Agency is a not-for-profit and a charity independent organisation, funded by the Department for Education and Skills and the Welsh Assembly Government.



  • The Adult Literacy and Numeracy Australian Research Consortium (alnarc) represents a national collaboration between five university-based research centres, based on a collaborative research management model designed to respond to state-based needs.
  • The Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL) was established in 1977 to promote issues regarding adult English language, adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice.


  • ABC Canada Literacy Foundation is a national charity committed to promoting literacy to the general public and to the private sector. It is a partnership of business, labour, educators and government focusing on public awareness programs, the development and execution of national literacy awareness campaigns; promotional support to local literacy groups; and conduct research to further the development of a fully literate Canadian population.
  • The Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL) is a national non-profit organization representing literacy coalitions, organizations, and individuals from every province and territory. Our mission is to be a national voice for literacy for every Canadian through networking, research, government liaison, learner development, communication, collaboration and building the capacity to support the people and organizations involved with adult literacy education.
  • The Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA) has been operating since 1994 and was incorporated in 1997 as a non-profit organization. Its members are comprised of adult learners, PLA practitioners, unions, businesses, academic institutions, equity groups, occupational bodies, sectors and non-governmental organizations.
  • LIfIA is a professional Canadian organisation committed to the development of ePortfolios for basic/key skills


ePortfolio Initiatives


The aim of "Key-PAL": http://www.eife-l.org/portfolio/keypal is to establish the relevance and potential impact of the ePortfolio on the development and assessment of key-skills (basic skills / key competencies), a critical issue for Europe, if we want to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustained economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.




  • National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), a national database on literacy
  • Literacies is a journal and a national forum that includes university-based researchers, program-based researchers, policy-makers and program workers. Their goal is to cross fences and unite the range of fields and disciplines that touch literacy.


  • Literacy.org) is a gateway to electronic resources and tools for the national and international youth and adult literacy communities. This site is jointly sponsored by the International Literacy Institute (ILI) and the National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
  • The Adult Numeracy Network (ANPN), formely the Adult Numeracy Practitioners Network, is an Affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics formed by adult education practitioners at the first national Conference on Adult Mathematical Literacy held in Arlington, Virginia, in March 1994. They had joined researchers, program administrators, government officials and others to discuss the status of adult numeracy education and to determine future directions.
  • The Adult Literacy Resource Institute (ALRI) is a program and staff development center for adult literacy / basic education and English for speakers of other languages programs in the Greater Boston area. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Education, and the Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Services in Boston, it is one of five regional support centers of the Massachusetts System for Adult Basic Education Support, SABES.
  • National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) is administered by the Secretaries of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, who make up the governing Interagency Group. A 10-member advisory board, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, includes prominent individuals from a wide range of groups with a stake in literacy: academic and nonprofit institutions; business, industry, and labor; and private foundations.



Good practice in basic skills in Lifelong learning --ABaker, Mon, 10 Jan 2005 16:30:08 +0100
The Guide to Good Practice in basic Skillls in Lifelong learning by the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong learning www.eucis.net and http://www.eucis.net/Report25GP.pdf




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