The 25th Anniversary of the National Literacy Act

25 years ago today, President George H.W. Bush signed the National Literacy Act. The act was a landmark initiative that put a federal focus on adult literacy and provided support and coordination to adult literacy programs.

Reflecting on the anniversary of the act, former First Lady Barbara Bush said, “The National Literacy Act put into policy my belief that education is a civil right, no matter one’s age.

“The needs of adult learners are so often overlooked, yet adult education initiatives have enormous potential to improve the social and economic well-being of families, communities and our nation as a whole.”

It’s important to recognize the significance of the National Literacy Act and all of the adults who, since its passage, have been helped by increasing their literacy skills. However, much work remains to be done.

We need to continue both implementing adult literacy programs until every adult has the skills to engage in all of life’s opportunities, and advocating for adult literacy as an essential part of our nation’s success.

Said Mrs. Bush, “What was true 25 years ago is still true today: everyone deserves a chance to obtain the education they need to provide for their families, set the next generation on a path to success and achieve their dreams.”

It’s fitting that the anniversary of the National Literacy Act comes just days after Seeds of Literacy GED graduate and tutor Margo Hudson gave the Pledge of Allegiance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The National Literacy Act shows that political support of adult literacy can result in very real changes in an individual’s life. Likewise, Margo’s journey shows that the lives of adult learners can touch even the biggest stages of our political processes.

With America about to elect its 45th President later this year, the anniversary of the National Literacy Act is a timely reminder of the power the federal government has to promote and support adult literacy.

Would you like to support adults who prove literacy is essential at any age? Please make a donation and help us further the impact of adult literacy!


Header photo: President and Mrs. Bush participate in a Roosevelt Room Signing Ceremony for H.R. 751, The National Literacy Act of 1991 and are joined by Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander and various Congressmen and Senators. 25 July 1991. Photo credit: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum