A multi-billion pound programme has done little to improve the quality of adult literacy and numeracy teaching, according to a report out today.
The Department for Education looks set to spend almost £6 billion on its skillsfor-life scheme.
But a report by the House of Commons' public accounts committee says the first few years of the strategy have produced little evidence of improvement in the quality of provision.
The UK has low levels of adult literacy and numeracy compared to international competitors. The Department for Education's strategy aims to improve the skills of some 2.25 million adults by 2010. Although the department
looks on course to achieve that, the committee raises questions about the quality of teaching and the cost of the project.
Today's report says: "The quality of provision for adults with literacy and numeracy needs is still too low."
An extensive review of quality by Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate found "widespread weaknesses". Furthermore people in the greatest need are getting the worst provision. And even in colleges provision of literacy, language and numeracy was poorer than for other areas.
The report adds: "In the first three years of the strategy, inspections have shown little evidence of improvements.
"A further evaluation of the quality of provision by Ofsted and the Adult Learning Inspectorate one year on from their first review found no such evidence either."
The Government however insists it is too soon to see progress because the strategy started from such a low base.
The Government has spent £3.7 billion since 2001 on the scheme. Today's report said no-one knew how much more was needed over the lifetime of the programme. But on current patterns it could be more than £2 billion.