March 6, 2008 was an important day for adult learners in Nova Scotia. Three adults who have returned to learning went to Province House to tell Premier Rodney MacDonald and others about their experiences and reflect on how important the right to learn is for all Nova Scotians. In Celebration of International Adult Learners’ Week, Literacy Nova Scotia collected submissions from adult learners who wanted to celebrate their right to learn and their freedom of expression by writing about the learning journeys they have undertaken as adults. The three contest winners: Shelley LeBouthillier from the NSCC IT Campus in Halifax, Kelly Carter from the Annapolis Valley Work Centre in Kentville, and Stephanie Nickerson from the Barrington Community Learning Centre in Barrington read from their submissions and presented copies to Premier MacDonald.
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Adult Learners’ Week is an annual event and 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26 speaks to the right of all to have learning opportunities.
Once we heard the announcement of ALW for 2008, Literacy Nova Scotia staff discussed what we could do in a short timeframe that would celebrate adult learning and would help adult learners learn new skills that would help them move on in their programs. Let’s do writing workshops and have a writing contest was our conclusion. We could afford to do six workshops and if a third of the participants entered the contest we would get about 40 entries. We could handle that. As with many good ideas, it took off. Soon we were getting entries from all over the province. We had entries from learners in many of the 30 communitybased programs, NSCC campuses, adult high schools, family literacy, seniors’ and workforce re-entry programs. There were essays, short stories, poems and songs. We heard loud and clear… adult learners in Nova Scotia have something to say about what learning means to them.
There were more than 120 submissions to the contest and each entry added to our appreciation of how important our right to learn is for the country. With the permission of the authors, Literacy Nova Scotia is happy to share some of the writings with other learners.