This handbook is a guide for unions looking to set up or strengthen a literacy program for their members. If you are just getting started, this handbook will help you explore the issue of literacy from a labour perspective and guide you in the planning and implementation of your program. If you are currently running a literacy program, this handbook can help you evaluate and strengthen your program. Unions who are not currently in a position to implement workplace literacy programs can use the handbook to develop policy and a strategy on literacy.
The handbook is made up off our sections: 1) Why Get Involved; 2) What a Union Approach Looks Like; 3)How-to Guide; and 4) Getting More Information.
In Section 1, Why Get Involved?, you will find out why literacy is a labour issue and why unions need to take an active role. We explore what literacy is and who needs literacy programs. We look at the link between literacy and the broader labour agenda, and at the need to link literacy to labour education and to workplace training. You will see that the payoffs go beyond the benefits to the members who participate in the program. Your union will be strengthened and so will your struggle for social change. But not all workplace literacy programs are good programs. We'll look at the union approach to literacy and how it differs from the corporate model.
In Section 2, What a Union Approach Looks Like, we take a closer look at the union approach to literacy. We show that there is no "preferred model" but rather a set of solid principles that can be applied in different programs to address the diverse needs of unions and their members.
You'll find out what sets union programs apart from other literacy programs. In union programs, the union plays a central role and the program is based on worker-centred learning. A worker-centred approach means that the program is rooted in the needs of the workers, the learners. Your members' needs determine how the program is designed, what it offers and how it is delivered.
In Section 3, How-to Guide, you will find a step by step guide to help you design, promote, implement, monitor, and evaluate your literacy program. The guide will give you a general sense of what needs to be done without tying you to a specific process. You will also find checklists to help keep you on track. Because there is no point in re-inventing the wheel, the guide will help you build on existing resources and draw from the experiences of your sisters and brothers.
In Section 4, Getting More Information, you will find profiles of union literacy programs that give concrete examples of labour program: models; a contact list of people and organizations that can help you with your program; and resource material, including publications, websites, and Internet discussion groups.