Literacy a problem statewide
Between 21 percent and 23 percent of American adults, equaling about 44 million people nationwide, cannot demonstrate basic skills in reading, writing and math.
In Louisiana, this percentage is even higher — 28 percent of all Louisiana adults do not have these basic skills. Three Adult Education Centers in St. Charles Parish offer assistance to residents that are seeking to further their education, with locations in Boutte, Killona and Norco.
“Our primary goal at the center is to give back a voice to people that have lost their voice,” said Shirley Cook, Coordinator of Adult Education for St. Charles Parish Schools. “Not having basic educational skills isn’t something that you want to shout from the roof tops, it is very personal and it takes a lot of courage to walk through the door and ask someone for help.” The staff of the Adult Education Centers in St. Charles Parish take pride in the services they offer to help adults achieve their education goals and to “become a star”. “Everyone is a star in their own way,” said Cook.
The Adult Education Centers in St. Charles Parish offer a variety of services to the adult student that is wishing to expand their education, such as Adult Basic Education (ABE) Refresher Courses, GED Preparation, Even Start Family Literacy, Community Partnerships and the newly added ACTWorkKeys.
The Adult Basic Education Refresher course provides basic education for adults with an emphasis on the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Refresher courses are available for those who already have a diploma but feel the need to upgrade academic skills in preparation for a job or re-entry to a vocational school or college. Adults who have been out of school for a long period of time may take advantage of these refresher courses.
Adults who did not finish high school for various reasons can take advantage of the GED Preparation Course. The GED diploma is a high school equivalency diploma. “More than 95 percent of employers in the U.S consider GED graduates the same as traditional high school graduates in regard to hiring, salary, and opportunity for advancement,” according to the American Council on Education.
The GED instruction is designed to meet the individual needs and educational levels of each person enrolled in the program. All classes are offered free of charge. Once a student passes the GED Test, the State Department of Education will issue the student a high school equivalency diploma. These diplomas are widely accepted by universities for the student that wishes to further their education by attending college.
“I am very excited,” said a young mother who just passed her GED at the Boutte Adult Learning Center. She also takes advantage of the Even Start Program with her young daughter. “This unique program allows the parent to work on their goals while keeping their children involved in the process,” said Cook.
The Even Start Family Literacy Program provides a literacy program that includes adult education, early childhood education and parenting skills to families who have children between the ages of birth to seven.
This program includes free lunches and free child care for children 0-3 years of age.
Another service provided by the centers is ACTWorkKeys. This program offers instruction on how to use computers, the internet, and other skills they need to get a job in today’s world.