The anchors of illiteracy
In an industrialized society with nearly universal elementary schooling,
and nearly ubiquitous print, it is reasonable to ask what keeps literacy
from developing, what holds illiteracy down — the metaphorical
Among the anchors of illiteracy are the limited availability of literacy programs, and barriers to participation in them. The costs of study — such as tuition, transportation, foregone wages — are frequently obstacles for potential learners. Women in particular must often cope with inadequate child care, lack of transportation (especially in suburban and rural areas), and the burden of doing two jobs a day. Women's male partners sometimes resist their efforts to further their education.188 Some government programs help overcome these barriers. For example, some programs offer arrangements for childcare; some are tuition free; some offer stipends. But such supports are not universal. Standards should be devised for such programs of assistance, and the adequacy of existing measures assessed.
Education systems that continually leave children and youth with limited
literacy are another of the anchors of illiteracy. Although school attendance
is compulsory from age 6 or 7 to age 15 or 16 in different provinces
and territories, not all students develop literacy skills. It is difficult
to know how many students leave school each year with notably limited
literacy skill. The Statistics Canada survey shows that 6% of 16-24
year olds are at levels 1 and 2 of reading ability. A Canadian Teachers'
Federation survey of public found that teachers now say that 18% of
students they deal with have
188 At least one study found single mothers of young children, and middle-aged women, underrepresented in literacy programs; see Hindle, Literacy Learning in Saskatchewan, 89.
189 Wendy K. Warren, Ruth Rees, RossAnn Edwards (Social Program Evaluation Group, Queen's University), Teachers and Literacy, Ottawa, Canadian Teachers' Federation, 1991, 40.
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