Basic computer skills are being taught as part of driver licence classes in Porirua because the written theory test must be done on a computer.
The classes are run by Literacy Porirua. Its chairman, George Seconi, believes his organisation has an even greater role than in the past because of the impact of technology on everyday life.
One of the class tutors, Howard Lukefahr, says the days of the paper test are over and the new way of taking it is an added challenge for those who have never used a computer or are unfamiliar with using a mouse.
The attraction of the class is to brush up on reading and numeracy skills along with the Road Code, which is now a book running to 400 pages.
“Some of the material requires a pretty high level of literacy,” Howard says.
Addressing a real need
Some of the participants don’t speak English as their first language.
Most participants are aged between 18 and their 40s but some are in their 50s.
Some want to get their licence because many job applications require it.
Literacy Porirua has been operating in the city for more than 30 years; originally, as the Porirua Language Project. It is affiliated to the Auckland-based Literacy Aotearoa.
Literacy Porirua manager, David Watt, says the driver licence classes have been taught the whole time his organisation has existed. The current driver licence classes are at Literacy Porirua at 12 Hartham Place and in Cannons Creek.
George Seconi, a former history and social studies teacher at Tawa College, says the driver licence test is just one example of the activities that now require basic computer skills.
He also tutors a driver licence class once a week.
“The Road Code requires quite a high reading level,” he says.
When the Daily Encourager visited a Saturday morning class in Cannons Creek, Howard was explaining the different types of pedestrian crossing and the rules surrounding each.
How close can a vehicle be parked to an intersection?
Is a private vehicle allowed to stop on a bus stop?
And how close can someone park to a vehicle entrance, were some of the questions being explored.
Another was the difference between the four second, three second and two second rules.
One of the young men on the course said he hoped to get his licence to get to work and to socialise. Currently, he gets rides with others.
People have to pass the written part of the licence test before they go on to get their learner licence.
Howard says that tutors don’t always know how students have got on with the written test, but a number do pass. He says some people join the class after failing the written test.
Howard has a day job but is passionate about literacy and numeracy. He finds tutoring “enormously rewarding” because it can play a part in transforming lives by giving skills to help people navigate the modern world.
These days it is almost impossible to navigate the modern world without computer skills,” he says.
David Watt says about 100 people did the driver licence class last year. The exact pass rate is unknown and some of the students don’t attempt the test because of the cost.
Literacy Porirua receives about 75 per cent of its funding from government sources with the remaining 25 per cent grants that includes Lotteries, the Tindall Foundation (via its local fund manager, the Nikau Foundation), Trust House, the John Illot, elorous and Thomas McCarthy Trusts.
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To go to the Literacy Aotearoa website click here