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

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.


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