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Public Opinion on Literacy in Canada

December 18, 2017
Nearly nine-in-ten Canadians (87 per cent) believe more needs to be done to improve literacy rates, according to a new Environics survey commissioned by Frontier College.

The national survey reveals 90 per cent of Canadians agree strong literacy skills are essential to attaining a high quality of life. Those surveyed also believe poor literacy skills negatively impact employment prospects (87 per cent) and increase the likelihood of poverty (76 per cent).

A sizable but smaller proportion of Canadians (40 per cent) also think poor literacy skills have an adverse effect on people’s physical health.

Literacy is perceived as a major societal challenge. Literacy is measured on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest.  A 2013 study revealed that almost half of Canadians have literacy scores below level 3, and nearly 1 in 5 Canadians are at or below Level 1[1].

“This holiday season we are urging parents to give the gift of literacy by creating opportunities for their children and teenagers to read,” says Stephen Faul, president of Frontier College. “Simple activities to get your kids reading can have a profound impact on their future success. One of the key lessons we’ve learned from providing literacy programs to thousands of people in need each year is the crucial importance of reading from a young age.”

Studies clearly show the love of reading, not just the ability to read, is a huge predictor of school success[2]. Conversely, children who struggle with literacy are up to four times more likely to drop out of high school[3].

 Frontier College offers these tips get your kids reading this holiday season:
  • Think about what interests your children (start with their hobbies) and find materials to read aloud (i.e. magazines, flyers, and newspaper articles).
  • Encourage older children to read to younger children. Both develop their reading skills through this experience.
  • Visit your local library and let your child choose books and materials to bring home to read.
  • If you are on the road visiting family and friends, encourage children to read street signs.
  • If your family receives greeting cards, have your children read them aloud, or help them create their own personal greeting cards and write messages to family and friends.
  • Ask your children to help make a grocery list or read labels in stores.
  • Encourage your children to read recipes and help with the measuring and baking.
  • Establish a tradition by reading the same book each year around the holidays.
“Learning to read and fostering a love of reading fuels a child’s imagination,” says Faul. “There is no more powerful way to expand horizons, improve self-confidence and spur creativity.”

The nationwide survey of 1,501 respondents 18 yrs+ was conducted by Environics Research using an online methodology between July 18 and July 26, 2017.
[1] Statistics Canada, 2013. Skills in Canada: First Results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).
[2] Diakiw, Jerry. (2014). The power of engaged reading: how to boost our children’s life success? Instill a love of reading. Education Canada, Spring, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
[3] Hernandez, Donald J. Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation. Published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012.
Posted: 12/19/2017 12:04:29 PM by Meredith Roberts

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