Canada is "falling short" in its commitment to the lifelong learning that should thrive from nursery to nursing home, says Paul Cappon, the head of Canadian Council on Learning.
But the Council on Learning says the index, to be reported in Ottawa on May 15, will show that Canada suffers "woeful" levels of adult literacy — 42 per cent are semi-literate, Cappon says — and poor levels of on-the-job training, with only 35 per cent of workers offered job-related courses every year.
But only 58 per cent of Canadian adults can read well enough to meet most day-to-day requirements, according to a study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
"Canada does very well at graduating students from high school, but there's a big drop-off in adult literacy levels and problem-solving skills — and we need to know why," Cappon said. "This new Composite Learning Index will be one of the tools that can give us answers."
Because education is governed largely by each province, Cappon said Canada has had no national policy on formal schooling or lifelong learning.
This being a Toronto Star article, we all know what the primary hidden subtext is: more federal government involvement in education.
This being a newspaper article, we also know what the secondary hidden subtext is: frighten readers with a compilation of statistics demonstrating that our national literacy rate is on par with much of the Third World.
For the longest time, we could boast of universal literacy, as could every other developed nation--if literacy meant being able to sign one's own name and read basic documents.
Now with a burgeoning immigrant populace actively discouraged from assimilating into the broader Canadian society, and an education system that increasingly prefers using children as guinea pigs for social experimentation instead of actually educating them, it is quite possible that we no longer have universal literacy in Canada's official languages.
It is equally possible, however, that literacy could also be being defined upwards to create a problem where none exists.