Literacy involves social, cultural & functional codes that help us participate in society. In Canada, we need a comprehensive literacy strategy, which entails a shift in policy orientation so that learning and human development are considered as ends in themselves. The economic benefits of literacy learning are obvious; the question is how to make the learning happen. Instead of asking Economists to quantify the benefits, lets ask educators to qualify how to make learning happen.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Globe & Mail: "Reading is more than a black-and-white issue"

Globe and Mail, November 3, 2005

Canada is experiencing a costly deficit in human capital. Far too many adults in this country have difficulty with basic literacy tasks, and this has serious negative impact on our economy and our social fabric.

Literacy was a top priority this week - as it should be - when education ministers from the provinces and territories met in Toronto. The economic arguments alone to support literacy initiatives are powerful. For instance, new research from Statistics Canada shows that investment in education is three times as important to economic growth over the long run as investment in physical capital, such as machinery and equipment."

Getting Canada Ready for the Knowledge Economy

Policy Options - Canada's leading public policy magazine
According to several international studies, Canada does well in the education field. Yet, says Glenn Pound from the Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy, a recent, comprehensive international survey shows that 42 percent of Canadians scored below a functional level of literacy, that this rate has not improved over the last 10 years, and that Canadian youth are actually faring worse. In this article, Pound reviews the numbers, the innovative work being done in various provinces to try and address the problem, and argues that in order to remedy the situation, “our strategies to deal with this issue will need to take a wider view of adult basic education and begin to see it as not just a labour market issue but also a social justice issue.” See the February, 2006 issue to read the full article.

>MTML's Newsletter - INCOMING -March 2006 -

>MTML's Newsletter - INCOMING -March 2006 - "I recently visited a literacy program and while I was listening to a young man read to his classmates, a program worker quietly told me that this particular student had been living on the street when he came to the program. She went on to explain that although it was quite difficult at first, and there were many challenges, he was doing great now, has his own apartment, and will soon be graduating to college.

Anyone who works in literacy probably has similar stories. Helping someone get on the road to lifelong learning really does make a world of difference for someone’s life - that is clear. What is not always so obvious is the difference it can make for the community. Of course literacy programs realize this, but at the East End Literacy (EEL) program they are emphasizing the community development aspect of literacy work, and are demonstrating, to great effect, how literacy programs can be the catalyst for a vital community building process."

Literacy: A World of Difference

The following article was written for the Toronto Star and published on their Commentary page on Feb. 2, 2005

Canadians are in for another shock. The last International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) revealed that nearly one in four Canadian adults have serious difficulties with literacy.

The results of another IALS are slated for release this spring and are expected to be the same or worse. The IALS is not an arbitrary standard like the ability to sign your name (as literacy rates in many countries are measured), but measures literacy on a comprehensive continuum to determine how well adults use information to function in society.

It is well established that Canada's literacy problem has serious negative impacts on our economy and social fabric. Governments in Canada realized that investing in literacy education was needed but despite this investment, the problems of low literacy levels remain relatively persistent.

The problem is that adults with literacy needs don't have the same opportunities for lifelong learning as other Canadians. These adults experience barriers resulting from adult education policies that don't recognize their social and cultural realities.

Threats to Health Care Erode Canadian Social Fabric

From Incoming - February 2006

Threats to health care, like those featured in the the Toronto Star yesterday, undermine our entire social fabric and are especially disturbing for those who view our health care system as a model for other social services. The notions of environmental and social factors for health, accessibility, and community that are embedded in the Canada Health Act are features that other social service sectors aspire toward. In the field I work in, adult education and literacy, we are still working for some of the policy shifts that occurred for health care back in the 1970’s and 80’s. See "Two Cents"Editorial on page two of Incoming.