Adult education is key to achieving our government's priorities. Adult education builds strong people for a strong economy and can contribute to success for students and better health. Our vision of adult education promotes the creation of strong communities. People need literacy and numeracy skills to become informed participants in the social life of their community and engage in its development. When people have the skills and knowledge they need to be part of the economic and social life of their community, a more cohesive and inclusive society results. A stronger and healthier civic society is part of our vision for adult education.
Research shows that significant numbers of Ontario adults still do not have the reading, writing, and numeracy skills they need for sustainable employment.1 We also know that this group has lower earnings and higher rates of unemployment.2 As well, we know that some employers are reporting skill shortages3 and that the skills of the workforce are linked to productivity.4 Higher educational achievement enables people to participate more effectively in the workplace, which leads to improved productivity and less reliance on income support. Adult education also fosters a culture of continuous learning that is fundamental to our success in the global knowledge economy. People's educational achievement and their prosperity are clearly linked.
We know from research that there is a relationship between the preparedness of children for learning in school and the educational attainment of their parents. Success for students is one of the main priorities of our government, and we have made a significant commitment to raising the bar on student achievement and closing the achievement gap among younger students in the elementary and secondary education system. Adult education and training can contribute directly to the goals of higher performance for underachieving students in the K to 12 system when the adults in their lives gain the language, literacy, and numeracy skills that they need to effectively participate in their children's education.5
We also know from research that there are links between health and educational achievement. To interact effectively with the health care system6 and to practise healthy behaviours, people need literacy and language skills.7
We are committed to higher educational achievement for Ontarians, lower unemployment, faster integration of new Canadians into the economy, and having more children arrive at school ready to learn. We are also committed to strengthening our democracy and increasing participation in our democratic processes. A strong adult education system can help us achieve these economic and social goals.
Adult education programs are usually distinct from programs in the secondary or postsecondary systems; however, adult education programs provide pathways for adults to secondary or postsecondary programs, to apprenticeship, or to employment. The Honourable Bob Rae, a former premier of Ontario, conducted a review of the postsecondary system and presented a report on the results of his review8 to government in February 2005.
1 Statistics Canada, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Human Resources Development Canada, Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society, Further Results from the International Adult Literacy Survey (Statistics Canada, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Human Resources Development Canada, 1997), p. 39.
2 David Green and Craig Riddell, Literacy, Numeracy and Labour Market Outcomes in Canada (Statistics Canada, August 2001), p. 1.
3 Andrea Dulipovici, Labour Pains: Results of CFIB Surveys on Labour Availability (Canadian Federation of Independent Business, April 2003), p. 1.
4 Michael Bloom, Marie Burrows, Brenda Lafleur, and Robert Squires, The Economic Benefits of Improving Literacy Skills In the Workplace (The Conference Board of Canada, 1997), p. 3.
5 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Literacy Skills for the World of Tomorrow: Further Results from Programme International Students Assessment 2000, Executive Summary (OECD/UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2003), p. 16.
6 Statistics Canada, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Human Resources Development Canada,1997, Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society, p. 56.
7 Burt Perrin, How Does Literacy Affect the Health of Canadians? A Profile Paper (Health Canada, Health Promotion and Programs Branch, 1998) cited in The Centre for Literacy of Quebec. Background Documents on Literacy and Health, Part 1 (The Centre for Literacy of Quebec, 2001), pp. 7-9