How to learn is as important if not more important than the subject matter to be learned.

Whanganui-based Ag Challenge has long-known this and will launch a brand new Intensive Literacy and Numeracy (ILN) programme with this firmly in mind on Monday, September 2.

Not everybody learns at the same pace, nor in exactly the same manner, so Ag Challenge will deliver the programme in a way that works for individual needs.

Aptly-named Kupenga, the programme will ensure graduates reach appropriate levels of reading, writing, speaking and maths which is essential to live a good life.

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The Maori translation of kupenga is "net" or "fishing net" which Frances Dowers, education manager at Ag Challenge reckons makes it an appropriate name for this programme.

"The aim of this programme is to empower people to collect the skills and experience they need to help them lead fuller lives," Dowers said.

"Having appropriate levels of reading, writing, speaking and maths is essential to live a good life.

"However, not everyone has had the opportunity in the past to learn effectively, in the way they needed, and in a way that worked for them. And not having adequate skills in any of these areas can lead to low self-esteem which can impact negatively on a person's life."

Dowers said Ag Challenge's Kupenga programme has been designed to address both the practical aspects of increasing these skill levels as well as raising confidence and self-esteem.

As adults, when new information is delivered in a way that makes connections to what people already know, they are then able to build on it. This makes learning exciting whereas previously school may have been a time of anxiety, frustration and failure.

"You need to make learning relevant to a person's existing knowledge and their lives, otherwise they struggle to make the connections. For many people, once the barriers to learning are removed, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities," Dowers said.

"Learners become engaged in their learning and realise that they're capable of achieving all sorts of things, previously thought to be beyond their reach. The rewards for completing a programme like Kupenga extend far beyond just improving communication or maths skills. There are improvements in health, happiness and confidence that filter through into all areas of their lives, including their families and community."

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