But if it is this small-p "political" perspective that distinguishes "community-based" literacy work, then it becomes possible to include within our review those literacy programs sponsored by colleges, schools and universities wherever they share the same outlook.
For that matter, we can also include an array of literacy programs and projects sponsored by various government, private and "non-literacy" non-government organizations that fully understand the role played by literacy and related training in strengthening both the people and the programs for which they are responsible. Indeed the reality is that many of the literacy programs across Canada are sponsored by coalitions that comprise volunteer groups, educational institutions, government ministries, private companies, labour unions, and community groups concerned with related social issues.2
Of course regardless of this shared outlook around social inclusion, there often remain significant differences amongst the wide variety of Canadian organizations that are drawn to support literacy work. These differences revolve around the type of learning and teaching environments offered, management approaches, level of funding, etc. But the very good thing about the Canadian situation is that there exists a strong consensus about the legitimacy of literacy as a way of helping to ensure social inclusion.
The first basic point to make, then, in assessing the link between lifelong learning and literacy is that Canada appears to have the kind of civic culture that takes literacy learning fairly seriously. We still need to organize ourselves more efficiently as a learning society -- we need to look much more rigorously at the practical implications of our shared belief in literacy and social inclusion -- but the positive reality is that Canada enjoys a strong civic or community context for literacy learning.
2 In Nova Scotia numerous Learning Networks have been set up. The Annapolis County Learning Network, for example, established in 1994 to promote adult literacy education, includes the Regional School Board, the Regional Library, the Black Educators Association, the Native Council of Nova Scotia, the Department of Community Services, the Health Board, the Canada Post Heritage Club, Human Resources Development Canada, as well as literacy practitioners, volunteers and learners. See www.nald.ca/PROVINCE/NS/acln/about/about.htm.
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