Changing lives for the better
Author Mahtab Narsimhan is quoted as saying, “A good education is the greatest gift you can give yourself or anyone else.” This sentiment rings particularly true for the 36 million adults in the United States who struggle to read, write, do math, and use technology above a third grade level.
To bring awareness to this dilemma, and highlight state and local efforts that help adults achieve the skills and training needed to succeed in college and careers, Congress has recognized the week of Sept. 23-29 as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.
The week provides the opportunity to highlight the life-changing programs provided through the state’s 15 regional adult education and literacy programs, which are overseen by the Iowa Department of Education. Last year, nearly 16,000 Iowans received low-cost, high-value instruction in adult basic education, adult secondary education, English as a second language, and other training to help improve their education and skill levels to meet employer demands and secure living-wage jobs.
This work is also integral to the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which calls for 70 percent of Iowans to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Iowa will need an additional 51,300 adults with no prior postsecondary education to earn credentials by 2025 to help reach that goal.
“Adult education is very important to individuals, communities, and our state as a whole because of the socioeconomic impact it has on every community,” said Juan Garcia, vice president of the Iowa Literacy Council and senior director for client relations at ACT Inc.
A former English language learner himself, Garcia understands how transformational adult education and literacy programs are to the individual and the family.
“When you have an educated community it benefits everyone,” he said. “Communities are better able to attract businesses. The state’s economy is strengthened and opportunities for residents to secure jobs with family-sustaining wages increases. As a parent of four children, I can say first-hand how learning as an adult impacts and motivates your children. Adult education impacts generations.”
To learn more about how Iowa’s Adult Education and Literacy programs help adult learners successfully transition to postsecondary education and employment, visit the Iowa Department of Education's Adult Education and Literacy webpage. In addition, the Your Future Starts Here website features student success stories and provides resources to help Iowans start the path to earning high school equivalency diplomas, head to college, or launch their careers.