This week, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (CLLN) announced that the federal government appears to have decided to quietly collapse Canada’s national literacy and essential skills network.
In Canada, adult literacy instruction is sometimes delivered by community organizations, sometimes in a formal school setting, and sometimes it is incorporated into workplace training. Responsibility for managing and funding adult education and training varies greatly across Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. This diversity creates richness in the field but also presents a number of serious challenges. For example, it is difficult to compare adult literacy and essential skills programs across jurisdictions, evaluate their effectiveness, and track results.
The Canadian Literacy and Learning Network is the national hub for research, information and knowledge exchange, increasing literacies and essential skills across Canada. A non-profit charitable organization, CLLN represents literacy coalitions, organizations and individuals in every province and territory in Canada. Their mandate is to share knowledge, engage partners and stakeholders and build awareness to advance literacy and learning across Canada.
In the absence of an announcement renewing funding after June 30, 2014, CLLN concludes that the federal government is simply going to defund the national literacy and essential skills network. They lament the lack of a national strategy on adult education, the absence of an inter-jurisdictional council on adult education and training, no national network of non-profits working in literacy and essential skills, and, apparently, not much research. For CLLN, it’s not just the literacy and essential skills sector that the federal government is abandoning—it’s also the most vulnerable low-skilled Canadians.