HomeLLO Organizes Literacy Awareness Day

LLO Organizes Literacy Awareness Day

LLO Representatives meet with MPP's TORONTO, November 27, 2009 – Gary Porter, a former literacy student, never dreamed he would one day be an Emcee at a reception at Queen's Park, introducing and meeting with MPPs. But his belief in the importance of getting the word out about the need for increased and stable funding for community-based literacy programs – programs like the one that helped him get his General Equivalency Diploma (GED) – gave him the courage to tell his story in front of MPPs, literacy practitioners and other adult literacy students at a Literacy Awareness Day Event on Monday, November 23. “The goals of the day were to thank the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) for additional funding received this year; stress the need for increased funding; and share successes and challenges with the decision makers in this province,” says Sue Bannon, President of Laubach Literacy Ontario (LLO) and Executive Director of the Midland and Area Reading Council. She spearheaded the event, with the assistance of her local MPP, Garfield Dunlop. Overall, the event was organized by LLO and sponsored by Honda Canada and CUPE Ontario. “We hope the day raised awareness of the need for sustainable literacy programs across Ontario,” says Ms Bannon. More than 60 literacy learners, volunteers and practitioners met with approximately 20 MPP's or their aides throughout the day and evening to give a face to literacy. Community-based literacy programs have not received a cost-of-living increase in more than 10 years and, while a 2-year infusion of funds has helped address severe waiting lists of adult learners wanting to upgrade their skills to get employment or further their education, the lack of sustainable, adequate funding has put many programs in jeopardy. The day began with a Press Conference where she, MPP Dunlop and Mr. Porter outlined the reasons they and 60 other literacy folk from across the province came to Queen's Park. The day was filled with scheduled meetings with Ministers and MPP's, and ended with a reception in the evening where everyone heard emotional, heartfelt stories from students and speakers such as Mr. Porter and MPP Kevin Flynn, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of MTCU, met for more than half an hour with representatives from LLO, including Keith Allen, Student Representative, LLO Board member and member of the North Bay Literacy Council who spoke about the impact literacy upgrading had on his life and job; and Carol Risidore, Vice-President of LLO and Executive Director of the Literacy Group of Waterloo Region. Their discussion outlined the wide range of services community-based programs provide – from one-to-one volunteer tutoring, to small group classes, computer training, partnerships with Ontario Works and college, and school board literacy programs. Lana Faessler, Executive Director of LLO, provided a provincial overview of the successes and challenges of community-based literacy programs, and pointed out that these programs are usually the first step adults take to begin their literacy journey. “Over 40% of adults in Ontario do not have basic literacy skills. This means that they have trouble reading street signs, making change in restaurants, or writing a job application,” says Ms. Faessler. “Approximately 30% of the population 15 years or age and older have less than a high school education, almost 40% of youth 16 to 25 have low literacy performance, and over 65% of those with low literacy are of prime working age, which is 26 to 55.” In Ontario, more than 110 Anglophone community-based literacy programs have served 15,496 adult literacy learners in the past year, most of whom have been assessed at Levels 1 or 2. Level 3 is defined as the skill level required for successful high school completion and college entry, and is the internationally accepted level of literacy required to cope in a modern society. More than 48 of these Ontario community-based programs are affiliated with Laubach Literacy Ontario. “It’s encouraging to note that over 70% of community-based learners have gone on to further education or employment,” says LLO President Ms Bannon. “But growing waiting lists, largely due to the recession, and inadequate funding are putting these literacy programs at risk – they are at the stage where they can no longer do more with less – they are having to do less with less.” Contact: Lana Faessler, Executive Director, Laubach Literacy Ontario 1-866-608-2574 literacy@laubach-on.ca