Defining and placing basic skills in professional literature is not unique. There are numerous definitions and also very different descriptions. The basis for the European definition in the national education and labour market policies are the results of the DeSeCo study (1999 – 2002) in the definition in international adult literacy research (OECD 2000).
According to the needs of the economy, the authors of the Slovenian guidelines for the development of the basic skills of employees (http://arhiv.acs.si/publikacije/Smernice_strategije_razvoja_temeljnih_spretnosti_zaposlenih.pdf) distinguish three types of literacy:
-basic, functional and complementary literacy;
-new basic skills: the use of linguistic knowledge, critical thinking, solving
problems, information literacy;
-elite literacy: a high level of literacy in subjects or disciplines, with which
we understand the control over the use of the appropriate professional language and literature.
In public term “functional literacy” or “functional illiteracy” has been interpreted in the continuum “have or have not”. The term literacy is also associated with different scientific or occupational fields, so terms such as scientific literacy, computer or digital literacy, etc are being widely used. A working definition of literacy adopted by the Expert group for Literacy Development (appointed 2004-2006) responsible for national creation of Strategy for raising literacy levels of children, youth and adults is as follows: “Literacy is continuously developing ability of individual to use agreed systems of symbols for creating, understanding and using texts in the context of family, school, work and society.” Furthermore, definition of literacy, that underpin the development of literacy programmes at Slovenian Institute for Adult Education, which is the main Slovenian institution for development and research of adult literacy in Slovenia, is based on understanding of literacy as social phenomenon: literacy is defined in terms of skills, that adults need to perform a variety of activities and roles in their life, including participation in the labour market and in the community; in the knowledge society adults need besides solid reading, writing, communication and numeracy skills, also skills, which are closely related to literacy skills, such as lifelong learning, social skills, computer skills, citizenship skills, etc.
The last Survey of Adult Skills, which was conducted in Slovenia from 1 April 2014 to 31 December 2014 and included 5 331 adults aged 16-65, shows that adults in Slovenia are on average on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technologically advanced environments below the average of the OECD countries (http://www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/Skills-Matter-Slovenia-Slovenian-Version.pdf).
Some 5.6% of adults attain the two highest levels of proficiency (Level 4 or 5) in literacy, significantly less than the average of 10.6% of adults across participating OECD countries. At Level 4, adults can integrate, interpret and synthesize information from complex or lengthy texts that contain conditional and/or competing for information (for more details on what adults can do at each proficiency level, see the table at the end of this note). Some 31.2% of adults are proficient at Level 3 in literacy, somewhat less than the average of 35.4% of adults across participating OECD countries. Adults performing at this level can understand and respond appropriately to dense or lengthy texts and can identify, interpret or evaluate one or more pieces of information and make appropriate inferences using knowledge text structures and rhetorical devices.
Some 8.6% of adults in Slovenia attain Level 4 or 5 in numeracy, less than the average of 11.3% across participating OECD countries. At Level 4, adults understand a broad range of mathematical information that may be complex, abstract or found in unfamiliar contexts. Some 30.8% of adults are proficient at Level 3 in numeracy, similar to the OECD average of 31.8%. At this level, adults have a good sense of number and space; can recognize and work with mathematical relationships, patterns, and proportions expressed in verbal or numerical form; and can interpret and perform basic analyses of data and statistics in texts, tables and graphs.
Although in absolute terms adults in Slovenia score similarly in literacy (256 points, on average) and numeracy (258 points), compared with the OECD averages, they perform better in numeracy (6 points below the OECD average) than in literacy (14 points below the OECD average).
Some 3.7% of adults are proficient at Level 3, the highest proficiency level, in problem-solving in technology-rich environments (the OECD average is 5.8%). Adults at Level 3 can complete tasks involving multiple computer applications, a large number of steps, and the discovery and use of ad hoc commands in a novel environment. Around one in five adults (21.6%) attains proficiency Level 2 in problem-solving compared with the average of 25.7%. At Level 2, adults can complete problems that involve a small number of computer applications and require completing several steps and operations to reach a solution.
Around one in four adults in Slovenia has poor literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills.
In Slovenia, the most important factor in the achieved level of literacy is the education and training of parents. Concern for systematic measures for the development of the literacy of youth and adults is imposed primarily on the ministry, which is responsible for education, and that efforts are mainly focused on pre-school and school education. The improvement of low literacy achievements of the adult population, including employees, is being addressed in practice, quite ad hoc, most often indirectly, with measures to increase the educational level, but most often do not reach the most disadvantaged groups. Employees have access to education only if they are defined as redundant workers or threatened to be redundant due to inadequate education. Training provided by employers to less educated employees is usually intended to acquire the specific skills required by the workplace.
Otherwise, adult education in Slovenia has a long tradition. It is embedded in the education system and in the social consciousness. Throughout history, this area experienced its ups and downs, but it was always present and shaped the social reality. The field is regulated by the Adult Education Act (OJ 110/2006, official consolidated text), which served as a good basis for the development of this area.
With the establishment of development services, professional bodies and organizations for adult education, with organized and continuous information to the public, through the promotion of lifelong learning and other development incentives, Slovenia has kept the adult education system in transition situations.
For Slovenia, which has been a member of the European Union since 2004, there are similar changes and challenges as in the case of other Member States (the population is ageing, the nature of the market is changing rapidly, and information technology is changing rapidly and the process of globalization causes a constant change in working conditions). There is also perceived a greater social stratification. Differences can be reduced precisely through education and training, as this allows individuals to achieve personal growth, employment, prosperity and greater social security, and society to develop and advance in social cohesion.
On October 24, 2013, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a Resolution on the National Program for Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia for the period 2013-2020 (ReNPIO 2013-2020). By the National Adult Education Program in the Republic of Slovenia, Slovenia is expected to raise the educational level of the population by 2020, general education, improve the opportunities for education and thereby increase the employability of the active population. As for the general education of the population, the aim is to increase the share of adults in the 25-64 age group included in general education by eight percent by 2020 (5% of adults in this age group in 2011 were included in general education).