Open Letter to the Minister of Education
Since the beginning of the year, several commentators have been alarmed at the high percentage of adults who have functional low literacy levels. One million people in Quebec, between 16 and 65, have low literacy skills.
The real scandal lies in the government’s inadequate support in the fight against illiteracy. As such, your comments on the 12th of January were less than reassuring.
In fact, you claim to have "launched [...] a call to clarify, [and] to try to further assess what we do well in the field, because we fund many organizations, and [want to see] how we can improve things."
To truly improve things, and to effectively combat illiteracy, one needs a holistic approach to the problem, its causes and its consequences. The lack of a national strategy which must include structural measures, prevents progress in the field of adult literacy. Additionally, the amounts that are currently invested to improve literacy are paltry compared to the magnitude of the problem.
Moreover, you leave room for doubt as to the recognition and future funding of the only network whose primary mission is adult literacy in Quebec. You say you want to "assess the funds that are available [to you and see] where best to place them to make a difference." If you truly want to make a difference, you should start by adequately funding the 128 literacy organizations whose essential role was unanimously recognized by the National Assembly.
Need we recall that, for 13 years, our network has been getting poorer, having not even received an indexation equivalent to the increase in the cost of living? It also currently reports an annual shortfall of more than $9.2 million solely to meet the needs expressed in their respective communities.
We invite you, Minister, to quickly clarify your actual intentions about the future of our network, which is already struggling to fulfil its mission. We also reiterate our invitation to come and meet the workers, volunteers and adult learners, who perform small miracles on a daily basis with the limited resources that are at their disposal.
Literacy Quebec is a network of the 13 community literacy organizations for the English speaking population of Quebec. It connects and represents community-based literacy organizations to empower people, impact lives and build a stronger society.
Margo Legault, Executive Director of Literacy Quebec
François Brassard, president of the Regroupement des groupes populaires en alphabétisation du Québec (RGPAQ)