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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buzz About Literacy: Hargrove support literacy movement's fight against federal spending cuts

Canadian Auto Workers
Statement Concerning Literacy Cutbacks

Just a matter of weeks ago the federal government issued a media release to celebrate International Literacy Day on September 8 and to applaud literacy groups across Canada. The government emphasized that "strong literacy skills are more important than ever in today's knowledge-based society. Literacy and other essential skills provide a foundation for skills development and lifelong learning, and can help all Canadians participate in our economic prosperity and improve their quality of life."

By September 25 this same federal government announced $2 billion in social spending cuts including $17.7 million in literacy spending over 2 years, a good portion of the annual budget of the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program.

These cutbacks defy all logic. Recent international studies tell us that 42% of the working age population are functioning below international IALS literacy level 3.

Workplace and other adult programs for foundation skills should be getting a much higher priority.

Yet groups like the Saskatchewan Literacy Network are now announcing that they must close their doors due to lack of funding, after long years of service.

We should be investing in the work of these long-standing organizations, as well as new labour-based and workplace programs - not starving them to death.

The funding must be restored immediately and new social investments in literacy developed in quick order.

We know that the Canadian industries we work in are the big winners when their work force has strong literacy and numeracy skills, the foundation of all other adult learning.

Basil “Buzz” Hargrove
Canadian Auto Workers
October 3, 2006