Quinn’s Quips: The journey of literacy in BC is more difficult than it should be

The most important lesson I learned is that literacy is vital to every facet of life, yet it is poorly funded across the board.

In the July 23, 2015 edition of the Alberni Valley News you’ll see the first installment of the literacy stories I have been working on as part of my 2014 Peter Gzowski Life Literacy Fellowship. Researching my stories has been a long and sometimes puzzling journey for me—long because I’ve had a busy year outside of the fellowship, and puzzling because of the many things I have learned about adult literacy levels in the Alberni Valley and in British Columbia.

The more questions I asked, the more I learned. And the more I learned, the more questions I had. Admittedly, I lost focus a few times and had to refer back to my original application to keep me on track with what I wanted to do. I feel privileged to have shared in people’s literacy stories.

The most important lesson I learned is that literacy is vital to every facet of life, yet it is poorly funded across the board.

Literacy should be a no-brainer for governments of all levels. Statistics compiled by Decoda Literacy Solutions in BC show that people with higher literacy skills earn more, work more, make better health choices and are more involved in their communities.

A widely held theory about adult education is that it should be based on the needs of the job market. However, in an article last year in the Ottawa Citizen, journalist Matthew Pearson noted the federal government seems to be shifting its focus to job-ready employees rather than those who need a boost in their skills to make them employable.

This is problematic for the programs, largely not-for-profits, that focus on the latter. Core funding is disappearing for many grassroots literacy organizations and that is forcing those that don’t fold outright to spend more time searching for funding that they could be spending on adult literacy.

I am in awe at the creativity of the people who stretch their budgets to bring literacy programs to those who most need it. In the next few of weeks I will share some of that brilliance with you, as well as two success stories with people who have dealt with their literacy challenges head on. I’m interested in talking with anyone who is inspired by what they read.

If anyone else has a story to share, I’m willing to listen. My e-mail address is editor@albernivalleynews.com and my phone number is 250-723-6399.

As I conclude my own fellowship journey, I can assure you that this is really only the beginning for me when it comes to covering literacy issues in the Alberni Valley. This is a story that, for the foreseeable future, has no conclusion.

The 2015 winner of the Gzowski Life Literacy Fellowship will be announced later this summer, and I am excited to see what his or her perspective on adult literacy will be.

Susie Quinn is the Alberni Valley News editor and 2014 winner of the Peter Gzowski Life Literacy Fellowship.

Just Posted

Alberni’s Anne Ostwald named a finalist for Premier’s Award

Alberni District Secondary School teacher encourages students to find their passion

Tofino and Ucluelet prepare for daytime Hwy. 4 closures and eight-hour power outage

“We know that there’s never a good time for an outage and thank the community for their patience.”

Port Alberni’s Healthy Harvest Farm closing

Operation will merge with Hupacasath Community Garden

Port Alberni Black Sheep hang on to win season opener

Sheep face James Bay Rugby Club in first game of the season

Port Alberni man arrested for breaking windows

29-year-old Port Alberni resident was caught breaking a window in a local residence

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

Most Read