Let's Break the Cycle of Low Literacy!

On the occasion of Family Literacy Day, observed each year on January 27th, the members of the Literacy Coalition call upon government decision-makers at all levels to do everything in their power to prevent the continuation of low literacy from one generation to the next.

The Coalition strongly feels that both the income and the literacy level of families influence how children face their future. The latest International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALLS 2003) for Quebec reveals that parents' schooling is a major determinant in children's acquisition of reading skills. According to the survey, children whose parents have little formal schooling are more likely to drop out of school and have difficulty reading. It is therefore essential to ensure that parents upgrade their skills and that they and their children have access to family literacy services that can help prevent later literacy problems.

According to the IALLS survey, approximately 800,000 Quebecers aged 16 to 65 have serious difficulties with reading, writing and counting in everyday situations. The survey indicates that more than 36% of Quebecers aged 16-25 fall under the accepted average education level. These statistics confirm the persistence of low literacy in Quebec and highlight the importance of prioritizing basic skills training for adults as well as activities to prevent low literacy.

Working with families, parents and children from underprivileged backgrounds, each member group of the Literacy Coalition contributes in its own way to enabling Quebecers to improve their literacy levels. Coalition member groups from the educational, community and business sectors offer diverse activities such as:

- Collecting and distributing children's books;

- Literacy and parenting workshops;

- Storytelling demonstrations for parents and their children;

- Guidance for parents in the supervision of homework and schoolwork;

- Family training and accompaniment to promote school readiness and success (including immigrant families)

- The development of initiatives to bring the family and schools closer together (notably by encouraging the collaboration of various organisations in the community)

These activities have proven effective, but because they rely on short-term project grants from a limited number of programs, they suffer from chronic under-funding. The Literacy Coalition advocates serious, long-term investments for community-based groups, for reading councils and for adult education centres. The Coalition favours structured and sustainable programs over short-term projects. We hope that the next government action plan for adult and continuing education will reflect this request.

Formed in 2006, the Literacy Coalition is comprised of 16 organisations from the literacy field, including community groups, resource centres, unions and school boards, from both the anglophone and francophone sectors. Coalition Address: http://www.coalition.alphabetisation.ca/