Literacy, broadly conceived as the basic knowledge and skills needed by all members of modern societies, is a fundamental human right. Literacy is a precondition for participation in social, cultural, political and economic activities. For many years adult illiteracy had been neglected in Germany. The long history of compulsory education gave the idea that everyone had learnt how to read and write in school. During the last two decades of the past century some initiatives promoting research and offering literacy courses emerged with adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) significantly involved. The international debate that followed the declaration of the UN literacy decade (2003-2012) helped to amplify the perception. An alliance for literacy (Alphabund) was founded by the Ministry of Education, trade unions and adult education organizations in 2008. Funds from the Ministry of Education helped to launch a great number of research programmes and projects. This article provides an insight into the discussion and practise of adult literacy in Germany, especially in the land of Brandenburg. It discusses a project run in six German regions (including Potsdam in Brandenburg in 2008-2010) aimed at bringing learning opportunities to everyday life of potential learners by creating local alliances for literacy (Alphabuendnis). People with dyslexia frequently do not want their social environment to know that they cannot read or write. Therefore, there is a strong need for a local network of supporters that would consist of people from various domains (education, social work, employment agency, labour market, etc.). The idea is to present those who don't have sufficient basic education (address/acquisition) with new approaches, and to support them in everyday life (counselling). It is also important to create new spaces and forms of learning in order to relate it to social circumstances that are useful for a single learner.
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