Graham Hughes, left, executive director at Literacy Alberni Society, and Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser look through a parliamentary colouring book that Fraser brought to be distributed to young learners. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Adult literacy programs receive government boost in Port Alberni

Adult basic education programs receive $24,000 boost from province

North Island College and Literacy Alberni have received a one-time grant of $24,000 to continue the Alberni Valley Adult Literacy Program at the college.

The announcement came close on the heels of Raise a Reader day in the Alberni Valley, celebrated by Literacy Alberni, community partners and the Alberni Valley News on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Mid Island—Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser stopped by Literacy Alberni Society earlier this month to congratulate LAS executive director Graham Hughes and other LAS employees and learners on receiving their Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP) funding, as well as to bring some learning material all about British Columbia’s legislature and government.

The CALP funding is important, says Hughes, because it funds numerous programs at Literacy Alberni. “With the CALP funding, it’s what funds all our adult literacy programs.

“The program funding we use it for allows us to continue our partnership with North Island College,” which provides adult basic education English for new Canadians or French Canadians learning and working on English equivalency so they can move on to post-secondary institutions, he said.

CALP funding is also used to fund technology learning programs for seniors in the Valley.

“Seeing the link between what the work literacy organizations like what we have here at LAS and post-secondary, that link is breaking down barriers,” Fraser said. “One benefits the other.”

”Literacy is a core skill,” Hughes said, affecting health and wellness, the ability of someone to follow prescription medication instructions, filling out employment applications, advocacy for housing and more.

“When the government invests in adult literacy, it allows for everything from crime reduction and employment rates, entrepreneurship and even just integration into Canadian life,” he said.

Fifty-eight of every 100 adults in Canada aged 16 to 65 have the basic reading skills they need for most everyday tasks, Hughes said. That means about two in every five Canadian adults, or nine million people, cannot read well enough to do everyday things. “If we add in the people who are older than 65, that number goes up to 12 million Canadians,” he noted.

Fraser said it is important for politicians to understand the link between literacy and other factors such as poverty and crime reduction, and advocate for literacy programs across the country .

“The numbers he’s talking about in Canada just reinforces that.”

”When we talk about adult literacy numbers it’s not just people who can’t read or write,” says Hughes. “People who can text message or read signs may not have the ability to comprehend the information when it’s more complex, or read a newspaper and deduct the actual information from those articles, regardless of being able to understand the words that they’re reading.”

A lot of the work Sandy Faust does with students at NIC involves helping them understand how the English language works, he added.

Fraser said he appreciates the intangible learning he has seen at Literacy Alberni: the social aspect of new Canadians developing their own community of learners who support each other and help each other navigate both the language and their new community.

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