Adult Literacy Policy and Professional Learning

This is an area of ongoing inquiry into adult literacy and basic education policy and the work of community-based literacy educators in British Columbia.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Suzanne Smythe
Funding Agency:
Wendy MacDonald Endowment

What's Proposed

The working lives of adult literacy educators are shaped by the growing precarity in the lives of adults with little formal education. These adults are experiencing precarious employment and barriers to access to affordable and high quality education opportunities including secondary school completion, ESL instruction, employment training and career and college access. What are the broader social and economic policies shaping this trend? What might be the consequences of these restrictive policies for social and income equality, and how might we understand education policies in British Columbia in the context of its aspirations as a petro-state? Perhaps most significantly, how can the adult literacy movement connect with broader social and environmental movements with similar concerns?

How This Project is Carried Out

This project is enacted through ongoing interview, focus group and document analysis as well as meetings and conferences with adult literacy educators in diverse settings across Canada.

Why This Project Matters

Educational policies often shift rapidly with deep implications in the everyday lives of people and the work of education institutions. Tracing and tracking these policies and locating them in theoretical contexts and broader national and global trends supports informed  educational practice and avenues for educational policy action and development.   

Where to Learn More

Smythe, S (2015). Ten years of adult literacy policy and practice in Canada. Language and Literacy: A Canadian e-Journal.

Smythe, S. (2015). ‘Communities are where it all happens’: Tracing discourses of sustainability in the destatisation of adult literacy in British Columbia, Canada. Encylopaideia 18, 40, 14–33.

Smythe, S. (May 1, 2015). Adult basic education backgrounder.

Smythe, S. (September 8, 2015). Who’s not coming to school this September? Policynote: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Smythe, S. & Butterwick, S. (March 2, 2015). New basic education fees will harm BC Jobs’ Plan. The Province.

Smythe, S. (April, 2011). Innovating from the margins: Practitioner perspectives on the changing landscape of adult literacy education. Proceedings of the 2011 Joint Conference of the Adult Education Research Council (AERC) and the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE). Toronto: AERC/CASAE.