While there is a considerable amount of research on the issue of literacy, there is little research or reporting related to the people who work and volunteer in the literacy sector. In fact, researchers in Focus on Practice: A Framework for Adult Literacy Research in Canada noted the difficulty in finding numbers on practitioners, programs and funding from governments or coalitions. The authors of The ABCs of Educator Demographics: Report of the Findings of a Situational Analysis of Canada’s Education Sector report a similar finding.
Our scan did not attempt to report on numbers of programs, practitioners, and volunteers because of the unevenness in terms of the availability and/or anecdotal nature of this information across the country. The scan does report on general trends and some examples to provide a sketch of what we know about the sector in Canada.
Interviews with key informants for the scan revealed that the “system” of delivery is extremely complex, fragmented and diverse across the country. Informants said that it is very difficult to know and keep track of who is doing adult literacy because some of the programming is project-based and operates on short-term funding. In addition, it may be difficult to obtain information from some provincial or territorial governments on what projects have been funded.
We found that three main types of providers deliver literacy and adult basic education (ABE) programming: community-based literacy organizations, colleges, and school boards. There are also some workplace literacy programs offered by employers and unions across the country, but the extent of these programs is unknown. It is also not know how many programs operate without money from “traditional” sources of literacy funding.