Another Literacy Day, another set of missed opportunities
NDP MHA Dale Kirby (St. John’s North) says there is little for the province to celebrate this year on International Literacy Day. The United Nations-created event falls on Sunday, September 8. Kirby, the NDP critic for both Education and Advanced Education & Skills, says government is failing to support basic and vital components of literacy.
“From an Education point of view, the reduction in learning resources teachers in our schools this year is a step backwards for literacy,” Kirby said. “Responsibility for libraries also falls to the Education Minister, who oversaw a $1.2 million cut to public library funding in this year’s budget. This brought the total number of librarians down to just nine for the entire Newfoundland and Labrador public library system.”
The situation in Advanced Education and Skills is just as discouraging, Kirby says. The promised Strategic Adult Literacy Plan has been abandoned by the PC government and the same goes for its responsibility for Adult Basic Education.
“I have been asking about the Strategic Adult Literacy Plan for two years,” Kirby said, “and I have never gotten a sensible answer. It has been abandoned by government, just as government has abandoned the people who need the most help to achieve literacy, further their education, and get a decent job.”
The government says it recognizes the importance of literacy, says Kirby, but its actions are contrary to its words.
“On International Literacy Day, I urge the government to live up to its own words and provide real opportunities for residents of the province to improve their literacy skills,” said Kirby. “Platitudes are not enough if we want to ensure Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have the literacy skills they need to access opportunities for further education and training.”