Hundreds of Canadian adults still struggle to read and write—but you wouldn't know it

October 09, 2018

Article originally appeared in This Magazine (Date: October 9, 2018). 

In Canada, there is little awareness as to the importance of adult literacy and the role that it plays in being active and engaged in a democratic society. Low literacy and numeracy skills in adults has significant social and economic implications because it affects everyday tasks like applying for jobs, reading to ones children and grandchildren, completing government forms, voting, and accessing social supports. It is an often-overlooked issue, rarely discussed in policy discourse. Decision-makers and elected officials at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels have not fully grasped the importance of ensuring that all Canadians are given the support and resources to increase their literacy and numeracy skills. For the many adults working to improve their literacy and numeracy skills, the issue can no longer be invisible.

To better understand the issue, Phylicia Davis reached out to other literacy workers working to improve access to literacy education and increase its visibility. Among these professionals is Dr. Suzanne Smythe, associate professor. "If we say adult literacy is invisible then it becomes invisible," comments Dr. Suzanne Smythe. "Adult literacy work is everywhere. It is so entangled and embedded in everyday life." To ignore this, she says, is to lose progress.

Read the remainder of the article, featuring comments from Dr. Suzanne Smythe, here.

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