Introduction – The Facts
It is important that participants realize the extent of the literacy
problem in Canada. The IALS survey is a useful starting point.
In 1994, seven industrialized countries participated in the International
Literacy Survey, (IALS). Statistics Canada administered the Canadian
component. Eventually nineteen countries participated and the information
collected has given us lots of useful information about the literacy skills
people in those countries.
It was found that over 35% of Ontarians have either serious problems
dealing with printed materials or can only deal with simple reading tasks.
The findings also revealed that those most in need of improving their
seldom participate in adult education. Adult Literacy and Basic Skills
programs serve less than 10% of the population who could benefit from
improved literacy skills. (Long & Middleton, 2001)
What is Literacy?
If time permits, ask participants to come up with their own definition
of literacy. If not, share your own definition or the one suggested
The ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities,
at home, at work and in the community to achieve one’s goals and
to develop one’s knowledge and
potential. International Adult Literacy Survey 1994.