Canada's Education Ministers make literacy a priority



    
    OPINION-EDITORIAL

    By The Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Education
    for New Brunswick and Chair of the Council of Ministers
    of Education, Canada (CMEC)

    By The Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Education for
    British Columbia, CMEC'S lead province for literacy
    

    TORONTO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - On September 8, Canada will join countries
around the world to celebrate International Literacy Day (ILD). ILD was
established in 1965 by UNESCO as a day in which governments, business and
labour groups, nongovernmental organizations, communities and individuals
discuss the importance of literacy and come together to address the challenges
of raising literacy levels for all people.
    Canada's education ministers have identified literacy as an essential
skill to thriving in an increasingly knowledge-based economy and socially
progressive and sustainable society. In line with these goals, the ministers
have spent the last year focusing on the importance of raising literacy levels
in each province and territory.
    With events planned across the country, International Literacy Day
provides every Canadian with a chance to reflect on the importance of literacy
education for all segments of our population.
    Through the leadership of Canada's education ministers, our country is
considered a world leader in literacy. But further progress is still needed.
Low literacy among both children and adults is a serious challenge that is
undermining Canada's overall performance economically, socially, and globally.
People with literacy challenges live in every community in Canada. In fact,
many Canadians have trouble with everyday reading and writing tasks, such as
reading a newspaper or understanding a bus schedule. This means that we have a
number of Canadians who are struggling to participate fully in our society.
    Literacy skills enable individuals to participate fully in the workplace
and to pursue their dreams. These skills help individuals access the
information they need to live a healthy life and to manage their health.
Literacy builds confidence. Through literacy parents can develop and build
relationships with their children as they share time reading together.
    Literacy is a key ingredient to Canada's ability to stay competitive in
the 21st century knowledge economy and remains a vital priority in ensuring
the health, safety, and quality of life for all Canadians.
    The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) - through the
framework of Learn Canada 2020 - identified literacy as a top priority and
created a literacy action plan to raise awareness about the importance of
improving literacy levels from coast to coast to coast. This literacy action
plan stresses sharing successful literacy policies, research, statistics and
data, and teaching resources for learners of all ages.
    International Literacy Day offers an excellent opportunity to build on
the strides made during the Pan-Canadian Interactive Literacy Forum that was
held in April by CMEC. The first of its kind, the forum was an immense success
that connected approximately 3,000 learners, literacy experts, and
representatives from the education, non-profit, business and labour sectors at
nine sites around the country. Each site engaged with an individual theme and,
collectively, these themes helped give participants a comprehensive
understanding of the literacy challenges and opportunities that exist across
Canada.
    Leading-edge communication technology connected participants from across
Canada in a single pan-Canadian conversation. This conversation was supported,
both virtually and in person, by keynote speakers from the fields of education
and business, as well as members of the media and entertainment community. In
two days of workshops, discussions, and presentations, members contributed to
a national network of information sharing.
    Participants have since taken the knowledge and strategies acquired
during the forum and shared them within their respective communities, thereby
marking a unified, nationwide movement that has strengthened communities
across the country and has directly affected the lives of millions of
Canadians.

    The Pan-Canadian Interactive Literacy Forum has created a legacy of
resources online to further benefit educators, learners, literacy providers,
and all Canadians. To access these resources and for more information, visit
www.literacy.cmec.ca. Literacy is truly more than just words. Get involved in
local literacy initiatives to support the long-term prosperity of our
communities, our provinces and territories, and our country.





For further information:

For further information: Tamara Davis, Coordinator, Communications,
CMEC, Tel.: (416) 804-6548, E-mail: t.davis@cmec.ca, Web site: www.cmec.ca/

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Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

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