Literacy is one of the fundamental building blocks of education, and a basic skill that most of us rely on every single day in our work and social life. So why is it that literacy rates in Canada are showing signs of stagnating or even falling?
Just last year, the Canada West Foundation published a report showing that Canada was facing an alarming shortfall in basic skills among those entering the workforce. For example, the report found that:
- 40% of Canada’s workforce lacks adequate literacy skills to succeed in most jobs.
- 60% of Canadian workers face skill mismatches, where they have skills that exceed or are insufficient for the job they are in.
- Many of the low-skilled jobs Canadians are currently employed in may see automation in the coming years.
Unsurprisingly, these findings raised alarm bells about the state of Canada’s education system. How are we getting things so wrong, given how wealthy, prosperous, and committed to education Canada is as a country?
Education Outcomes Due to a Range of Factors
While it is always tempting to blame these kinds of shortcomings on a single issue — overcrowding in schools, for example, or out-dated curriculum — these kind of across-the-board problems are usually due to a confluence of different factors. This means that a multi-pronged approach is necessary if they are to be solved.
Individual families can play an important role in helping to address these problems by fostering a greater respect for literacy in the home, and by modelling an interest in reading. Parents can also encourage their children to enrol in after-school programs to help improve literacy, or get them involved in community book clubs or reading groups.
Access to High Quality Education Unequally Distributed
One issue that is important to keep in mind when considering these numbers is the fact that access to education is not equally distributed across Canada.
Schools in affluent catchment areas in downtown Toronto or Calgary may be doing very well, while those in smaller cities and rural areas find themselves strapped for cash and struggling to attract teachers.
If you don’t live in an area with particularly strong schools, you may need to invest in private education as a supplement to what your child is learning in class by hiring a private tutor.
For example, it is easy to find an English tutor in Kitchener who can work with the curriculum and help your student improve their reading, writing, and fluency. This may be the best way to ensure that while education policy is being sorted out, your child has the educational support they need.
According to a recent news story in MacLean’s, one in ten fifteen-year-olds lacks basic literacy and numeracy skills, and the problem is getting worse rather than better.
If you want to make sure your child doesn’t fall through the cracks of the public education system, you need to consider whether it might be necessary to hire a private tutor to help ensure they master the skills they need to succeed in the twenty-first century.
After all, in the modern knowledge economy, those who have the high degree of literacy necessary to be effective communicators are the ones who will be positioned to reap the benefits of Canada’s prosperity.