Upset imposed on learners ‘shameful’
The most recent literacy data for Newfoundland and Labrador comes from the IALSS (International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey). This data from 2003 reveals that over 50 per cent of people aged 16–65 in our province are still scoring in the two lowest literacy proficiency levels.
I realize these statistics are somewhat dated. They do, however, have value in demonstrating a need to improve provincewide literacy levels among all age groups of our population, rather than impose any measures which could negatively impact it. In my view, the recent budget announcement raises a serious “red flag,” and suggests that literacy pro- gramming should be revisited so that our province provides obstacle-free accessibility, for at least one full generation of our people.
More than ever before, our province’s industrial sector is depending on a very highly-developed knowledge “economy.” So, one would think that it’s time to further develop educational programs such as Adult Basic Education in both the public and private sectors through increased funding and resources.
Another point, worthy of note, is the approach taken by our government to action funding cuts, and program restructuring. Students in these programs have “beaten the odds,” and have demonstrated high levels of courage to enrol in literacy programs suited to their needs.
They have come to know their instructors and their school. The enormous upset imposed on these adult learners, causes much heartache and discouragement for them and their families. This is shameful.
I’m perplexed at the logic used by government to initiate recent budgetary measures. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think not. I do not see decisions to reduce funding around literacy and school-based initiatives as demonstrating wisdom at this time.
— Derrick Sheppard is chairperson of Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador