As the kids get back to school (aaah, sweet nostalgia from this former school nerd), perhaps some of the adults in this country might want to think about joining them. A new Literacy Map of Canada, based on an extensive survey by StatsCan, shows that nearly 48 percent of adults in this country have low literacy levels (Level 2 and below).
This means that a large segment of the population can only deal with simple, clear materials, if at all. The reasons for Canada’s surprisingly low literacy rate are not clear – given that free, well-stocked public libraries exist in nearly every community (cities did not necessarily have better literacy rates than rural areas, either), high-speed internet is now available almost everywhere, and we have a generally good public education system in Canada.
For some, there may be a general disregard for reading and writing, despite the volume of written material that is processed and distributed in our information (or knowledge) economy. But I suspect there are many who have simply learned how to cope with and/or hide their lack of literacy skills.
It doesn’t help either that just in time for the new school year, public adult literacy programs are being cut and literacy programs are increasingly left to non-profit societies that, guess what, have also suffered budget cuts (ABC Canada is one national organization; Frontier College is another).
But if all else fails, if all the literacy coordinators get fired and there aren’t enough volunteer tutors to cope with the demand, simply pick up a book and show your country some love.