News Release

Federal leadership crucial in restoring adult literacy knowledge base

May 14, 2024 Print

Montreal – Canada’s adult education programs help people advance their literacy skills. In the past, adult education professionals and policymakers across Canada benefited from a shared body of knowledge on learners and teaching materials. Over time, declining federal support has caused this national knowledge infrastructure to deteriorate, leaving literacy practitioners struggling to find the right resources to better adults’ literacy skills.

In a new IRPP paper, literacy expert Brigid Hayes argues that a comprehensive, national adult literacy knowledge infrastructure needs to be reinstated to better support learners, practitioners and policymakers. National oversight is crucial to eliminating regional disparities, knowledge gaps and duplication of effort. Provinces and territories would still lead program delivery, while benefiting from access to the best knowledge resources available in Canada.

“To bolster adult literacy across Canada, the federal government needs to play a leading role,” says Hayes. “The provinces and territories currently responsible for adult education delivery do not have adequate resources and opportunities to create and maintain a national knowledge infrastructure efficiently. A national infrastructure would promote collaboration and break down jurisdictional silos.”

She recommends taking the following steps:

  • Put adult literacy research back on the federal agenda.
    Employment and Social Development Canada should develop a national adult literacy research strategy in consultation with adult literacy practitioners and academic experts.
  • Expand opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices nationally.
    The federal government should support nationwide formal networks, conferences, workshops and other means of sharing adult literacy knowledge across jurisdictions.
  • Build a national repository of adult literacy projects and results.
    The federal government should also create and maintain a national repository of adult literacy publications, project reports, curricula and videos.

“These recommendations will provide adult literacy practitioners and policymakers with the tools to do their work effectively, which will benefit adult learners and society as a whole. Without a national knowledge infrastructure, adult literacy will remain marginalized, and Canadians who want to advance literacy skills will be left further behind,” says Hayes.

Let’s Rebuild the Foundation: Reinstating Canada’s Adult Literacy Knowledge Infrastructure Requires Federal Leadership

Let’s Rebuild the Foundation: Reinstating Canada’s Adult Literacy Knowledge Infrastructure Requires Federal Leadership


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