Roland Butler, Opposition Education Critic and MHA for the District of Port
de Grave, says he is disappointed with recent results contained in a
national literacy survey outlining the percentage of people in this province
who are considered illiterate.
In a recent survey conducted by the
National Literacy Secretariat, it concluded that upwards of 50 per cent of
the people living in this province are functioning at the two lowest levels
of literacy proficiency.
"This survey demonstrates that the literacy resources and programs
available in this province are far from sufficient," said Mr. Butler. "We
have heard very little from the provincial government regarding this survey
and what plans they have to address the overall issue of high illiteracy
rates in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Unfortunately, at a time when literacy programs in the province need
investment, this government is cutting funding and programs. We have already
witnessed the dismantling of the literacy branch in the Department of
Education and the firing of the Executive Director. In addition, instead of
increasing funding to expand Adult Basic Education (ABE) sites in the
province, this government has cut funding to sites such as the one located
in Deer Lake.
"The ABE pilot project that was set up under the previous administration
was intended to ascertain the literacy and learning needs of adults in this
province, and be used to expand the program after the pilot stage was
completed. The current government did not recognize the importance of these
programs and did not follow through on this plan. In the K-12 system, we are
hearing from teachers that too much time is being placed on testing and
identifying children’s weaknesses, instead of allowing students to learn and
teachers to teach.
"It is obvious that this government has very little commitment to
literacy programs in this province and no clear plan on addressing the
results released in this report. If there is to be any improvement in the
fight to combat illiteracy in this province, I suggest the minister of
education make the necessary investment and commitment to ensure this report
is not shelved, but acted upon in the best interests of people in
Newfoundland and Labrador."