As a field of practice, we have a great deal of knowledge about some aspects of literacy work in Canada. For example, as a result of the International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (2003) we know statistically the literacy levels of Canadians. We know from research and practice what makes an ideal learning environment and we know certain characteristics of adult literacy learners. What we don’t have is a comprehensive picture of the field itself: who works in this field, how they got here, what training they receive, what their working conditions are like, whether the work has changed in recent years or is likely to change in the future, and what the field needs to do to prepare for the future.
These are the types of questions that a study of the field or sector attempts to answer. Sector studies, however, need to be well-focused and grounded in reality. The Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL) felt it was important to document what the field sees as key knowledge gaps before developing a sector study. To gather this information, we engaged Sue Folinsbee to carry out an environmental scan by reviewing the literature and interviewing key informants.
We would like to thank Sue and her research assistant, Mary Ellen Belfiore, for their work on this research. We would also like to thank the key informants (See Appendix 1) who suggested resources and identified key issues. Their perspectives and experiences helped us to appreciate, but not fear, the complexity of the work that lays ahead.
Our next stage will be to use the information in the environmental scan to identify appropriate partners and to develop a funding proposal for a full sector study. Our working group for this includes Lesley Brown, Ann Marie Downie, Candice Jackson, Janet Lane, Maria Moriarty, Marina Niks, Maurice Taylor and MCL staff.
Movement for Canadian Literacy