Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Low literacy rates a Canadian problem: Cleary

St. John’s – New Democrat Post-Secondary Education Critic Ryan Cleary is reacting to comments of a  Memorial University professor that students lack a basic knowledge of geography, saying that's reflective of a national problem and is not unique to Newfoundland and Labrador students.

“We should not be surprised that students are entering university with low literacy rates and a shaky educational foundation,” says Cleary, MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl. “Low literacy is a problem in every corner of the country.”

Judith Adler, a sociology professor at MUN, expressed concerns to CBC on Tuesday that some students don't basic knowledge of geography — identifying Africa on a map, for example.

Cleary, a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources Skills and Social Development (HUMA), points to a presentation made by the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network to the HUMA committee in June during its study on skills shortages across Canada. In the presentation, representatives stated that 43 per cent of Canadians have a low literacy rate.

“It is mind boggling that in Canada, a G8 country, and one of the most advanced nations in the world that 9.8 million people have trouble either reading a pill bottle or a training manual,” says Cleary.

The MP is calling on federal and provincial governments to come together to address low-literacy rates.
“Employers across Canada say the low-literacy rates are impacting productivity and Canadian competitiveness,” says Cleary. “Literacy is fundamental to Canadian society and this should be a wake-up call to both levels of government.”

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