Dame Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House, told The Daily Telegraph on Saturday that millions of adults in Britain had problems reading or understanding simple texts.
“But the point is, it’s not fashionable, is it? You can talk about little kids reading,” said Rebuck, adding, “But adults not reading? Or adults in the workplace not having enough literacy to fill in a form, to work on a computer, to be promoted?”
Gail, a publisher known for funding a famous adult reading scheme in 2005, said functional illiteracy was a major problem in the UK although many preferred not to raise awareness about it, Presstv reported.
“That’s not something that people like to talk about. But it exists,” she said.
According to official estimates, some 5.1 million people in England suffer from functional illiteracy, meaning that they can understand only the most straightforward, short texts on familiar topics, a level attributed to children aged 11 or below.
Gail said that adult illiteracy in Britain was affecting children’s ability to learn as many people found it embarrassing to have lower levels of knowledge in reading and understanding when it comes to engaging with their kids’ education.
“... you have a cycle of deprivation that goes on through generations,” said the publisher.
Gail’s reading scheme for adults in Britain faced closure last year after failing to find a corporate sponsor. A writer then offered personal resources of around £120,000 to save the initiative which was apparently ignored by the British government.