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Literacy and Life Skills for Pasifika Adults: Results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey

Publication Details

The 2006 ALL survey was designed to measure the distribution of literacy and numeracy skills among the adult population of New Zealand. The ALL survey included an oversample of Pasifika adults. This design feature has allowed meaningful insights into the distribution of literacy and numeracy skills among the adult Pasifika population of New Zealand.

Author(s): Elliot Lawes, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: August 2009

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report. This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads/Links' inset box, top right).
Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

Executive Summary

Talofa lava, Kia orana, Fakaalofa atu, Taloha ni, Ni sa bula vinaka, Malo e lelei, Tënä koe, and warm Pasifika greetings.
  • How are literacy and numeracy skills distributed within New Zealand’s adult Pasifika population?
  • How are these skills distributed according to factors such as age, gender and income?
  • Are the distributions of these skills different for adults from different Pasifika ethnic populations?

The Adult Literacy and Life-Skills (ALL) survey, conducted in 2006, is able to provide some insight on these and other questions. It follows a similar survey, the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), which was conducted in New Zealand in 1996.

The ALL survey was designed to measure the distribution of literacy and numeracy skills among the adult population of New Zealand. In the light of relatively small numbers of Pasifika respondents in the IALS survey, the ALL survey included an oversample of Pasifika adults. This design feature has allowed meaningful insights into the distribution of literacy and numeracy skills among the adult Pasifika population of New Zealand.

Why do we need these insights? Literacy and numeracy skills are key factors that contribute to New Zealand’s society and economy, of which the Pasifika population forms a large and important part. The ALL survey provides top-level information on the distribution of English language literacy and numeracy skills in New Zealand. It therefore provides a general picture of how the skills of the adult Pasifika population contribute to New Zealand’s society and economy.

This report is a sequel to four earlier reports investigating the distribution of skills among the entire adult population of New Zealand (located on the ALL (Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey) page). In particular it follows the report The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Gender, Ethnicity and Literacy. For more information about the ALL survey visit The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: An Introduction.

Key Findings

This report describes the distributions of prose literacy1, document literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skill among the adult Pasifika population of New Zealand2 in 2006. In particular, this report describes the relationship between distributions of these skills and each of the factors: age; gender; labour force status; educational attainment; language most frequently spoken when at home; first language; place of birth; and income.

Where quality of statistics allowed comparison:

  • Among almost all population subgroups of Pasifika adults in New Zealand in 2006 identified in this report (i.e. groups defined by age, gender, labour force status etc), nearly two thirds or more of members of the subgroup did not have the level of skills allowing full participation in the knowledge society and economy.3
  • For Pasifika adults in New Zealand in 2006, those in the following groups were most likely to have the level of skills allowing full participation in the knowledge society and economy:
    • 25-34-year-olds
    • Women
    • The employed
    • Those with a tertiary-level education
    • Those who, when at home, most frequently spoke English
    • Those who were born in New Zealand
    • Those who were in the highest 20 percent of Pasifika income earners.
  • Between 1996 and 2006, there appeared to be some decreases in the percentages of Pasifika adults with the level of skills allowing full participation in the knowledge society and economy. However, due to a small sample in 1996, these changes may be less marked than they appear.4
  • There were some differences in the distributions of literacy and numeracy skills among the Pasifika ethnic populations. In general, Niuean adults tended to have relatively higher skills and Tongan adults relatively lower. However, there was considerable overlap in their distributions.

Footnotes

  1. Prose literacy is the ability to read continuous text such as that found in books, document literacy is the ability to read discontinuous text such as that found in graphs or charts, numeracy is the ability to manage the mathematical demands of different situations and problem solving involves analytical reasoning. For more details, please visit: The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: An Introduction.
  2. The Pasifika population described in this report are represented by those who reported that they belonged to any Pasifika ethnic group in the ALL survey ethnic question. In particular, these respondents may have also identified with other ethnic groups in addition to Pasifika.
  3. That is, level 3, 4, or 5 skills in the terms of the ALL survey.
  4. This is addressed in the Section 10 of the present document and taken up in Literacy and Life Skills for Pasifika Adults – Further Investigation.
     

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