The Higher Ed Quality Council of Ontario makes claims about postgraduate students literacy skills

A recent HECQO report, republished in the Globe & Mail suggests that 25% of students in higher education settings do not have the literacy skills required by employers and the economy. Problematically, this study uses population level data to infer actual everyday capacities of young Canadians, suggesting that those who don’t attain a threshold of Level 3 in numeracy and literacy skills are a ‘drag’ on the economy. Even though the OECD rejects this ‘threshold’ argument of literacy, it persists in some Canadian policy circles. You can read the original HEQCO study here, the G&M article here and then read a  critique of the study by Christine Pinsent-Johnson.

As literacy educators we should be mindful of the methodological and interpretive claims of large scale literacy measurement studies and how these are translated into popular media. When studies create simplified constructs of ‘productive’ vs ‘non productive’ citizens, this can create social divisions  that undermine the project of inclusive literacy education.


BC budget consultation season rolls around again

It’s BC budget consultation season once again. To provide input to BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance, please go to this link. The deadline for all input is Monday, October 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m

This year, I’m submitting the following:

To the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance,

I appreciate the opportunity to provide input on the spending priorities for the 2019 BC budget. I am mostly concerned about the connection between education and poverty. Our provincial anti-poverty strategy must include seamless and free access to provincially articulated Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses. I applaud the removal of tuition fees for ABE. However, in Vancouver, did you know that ABE students are still responsible for up to $600/year for college fees and the UPass? The province’s Adult Upgrading Grant, which is supposed to cover this, is based on Canada Student Loan guidelines and serves to screen out many of the very students it is meant to support. For example, women must get their husbands to fill out the form in order to qualify! Likewise, adult youth must get parental approval. If BC is serious about an anti-poverty strategy, we must continue to remove the barriers adult students face in accessing ABE courses. 

Another area we mustn’t forget is childcare. While I don’t rely on childcare myself anymore, I made a personal promise that I would continue to speak out for universal childcare until it was realized. It is also closely linked to education and parental access to Adult Basic Education. Above all, it is an integral part of a rigorous anti-poverty strategy. 

I look forward to seeing the BC government move forward on these foundational budget items.


Lynn Horvat

ABE Instructor





Literacy & Numeracy recognized in Poverty Reduction Strategy

Adult literacy and numeracy has been included in the first ever (if you can believe it) National Poverty Reduction Strategy. See Brigid Hayes post via Literacy & Numeracy recognized in Poverty Reduction Strategy

Curious that the role of OLES is not mentioned and that literacy and numeracy education and measurements will prioritize young adults, via the PISA at age 15.

The Digital Skills Exchange Program (many groups submitted funding proposals last Spring for this new program) is mentioned as are the revitalized Labour Market Agreements, as initiatives that support the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Ideally these different projects and initiatives can be woven into a cohesive literacy and numeracy strategy with a generous and 21st century understanding that all literacy and numeracy skills as well as anti-poverty efforts involve digital technologies and critical citizenship.

BC ABE Policy Work Update

With the change of government in BC over the summer of 2017, Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) faculty delegates from around the province seized an opportunity to meet with BC Ministry of Advanced Education (AVED) officials in the fall of 2017 to provide input on policy for ABE/ELL programming in public post-secondary institutions. Then, in spring 2018, AVED announced the new Adult Education Policy Framework. It is posted here for reference. Also posted is Vancouver Community College Faculty Association’s (VCCFA) summary response to the new policy. It briefly outlines the initial key discussion points from the fall consultation, the corresponding Ministry action, and finally, issues requiring further action to ensure student access is secure.

Screen Shot Adult Learning Policy FrameworkScreen Shot VCCFA Response Chart


Canada’s least affordable data

For those of us concerned with digital equity, access and literacy, the latest stats on Canada’s data un/affordability will be of little surprise. The high cost of data raises huge issues of equity at a time when our cities want to calibrate their social planning decisions to data generated by smart phones. Whose data is represented in ‘smart city’ planning?