Just had a visit to this site and couldn’t leave. is vibrating with ideas and energy to support, cultivate and regenerate cree literacy. New books, symposia, language apps, technology debates, commentaries on vocabulary and spelling, fluency and translation, revitalization, guest speakers….



Once again, OLES lapses millions of dollars targeted for literacy and essential skills

These pieces by Brigid Hayes are astounding. Join the movement to write your MP to share how your community could have used some of the $9 million for adult literacy that OLES left on the table in 2016-2017. And ask why none of what was spent made it west of Manitoba. Source: Once again, OLES lapses millions of dollars targeted for literacy and essential skills and


A new mandate for this blog?

In 2014 this blog was created as a collaboratively authored effort by educators-researchers  in the adult education field in British Columbia with the aim ‘to gather and share information about the social, economic and educational consequences of ABE tuition policy and other changes to adult education policy in BC.’ Now that the tuition fees are no more, do we want to set new goals for this blog? What might these be? Recent posts offer some inspiration: Rich research that pushes literacy and basic education research and practice along, timely reports from the field, new policy insights and ideas, a place to share information. Perhaps too a place to share experiences of decolonizing adult literacy and basic education? What else?

Policy Basics: ABE student voices & experiences

A couple of recent reports support the policy work that is underway in BC this fall. These reports bring adult basic education student voices and experiences to the forefront of discussion and inform guiding principles for educational policy.

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Complex Pathways in Adult Education – A Longitudinal Study, Jill Auchinachie and Alison Bowe, Sep 2017


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Survey of Student Persistence, Success and Retention for Adult Literacy Fundamental English Levels 3 – 4, Lynn Horvat, May 2017

Policy Discussions Underway: Moving forward on removing barriers to access for ABE students

Report out from Karen Shortt, President, Vancouver Community College Faculty Association

October 19, 2017

On Monday, October 16th, a group of 11 faculty members from across the Province met with the Assistant Deputy Minister and three Government policy developers to discuss the development of policy for ABE and EAL program delivery. I was at the table along with Taryn Thomson from College & Career Access and Lynn Horvat from Basic Education. The other faculty representatives at the table were from Camosun, North Island, College of the Rockies, Vancouver Island University, Kwantlen and the College of New Caledonia.

Being consulted at the initial stages of policy development has been one of our main concerns for many years. You may recall that in December of 2014 the then-Liberal Government suddenly and without consultation re-instated tuition for all post-secondary developmental programs. The announcement by the newly-elected Government in August, 2017 of the reinstatement of tuition-free ABE and EAL included a commitment to engage with educators “to establish policies that ensure domestic students in ABE and EAL programs are able to progress and complete their studies and transition to post-secondary education or employment…and that the programs remain sustainable within institutions.”

We were very pleased to be invited by the Ministry to come to Victoria and engage in what we hope is the first of many ongoing discussions. We prepared the attached Briefing Note dividing our key discussion points into three areas: Philosophy, Stable Funding, and Student Support. The Government representatives listened intently and asked specific questions. However, we were told at the beginning of the meeting that discussing funding was ‘out of scope’. Regardless, we stressed many times during the two-hour meeting that institutions need to be directed via policy to deliver a targeted number of developmental FTEs. And, to support this targeted FTE policy, there must be stable, ongoing, and sufficient program funding.

At one point, the Ministry displayed a chart showing overall declining post-secondary student enrolment since 2009. They asked for our input on why this had happened. Lynn Horvat responded that this data actually supports our general point that there has been an erosion of funding in all of education over the past 16 years, concurrent with a substantial and constant erosion of all social service funding across many related Ministries. The result has severely impacted post-secondary students and their ability to come to school and this is the fundamental reason for declining enrolment.

Other key discussion points we stressed included a much needed shift in policy to a view of ABE and EAL learners as life-long learners with complex lives and backgrounds who require adequate time, including “stop-outs” where needed, in order to progress. Success and progress, we argued, should be measured by individual students according to their own yardsticks. Notions of success being tied to jobs is a narrow view that discounts the many other benefits that this group of learners gains, such as increased health, personal development, citizenship, confidence, pride from being a student, and improved chances in the workplace. We argued, in short, that to invest in ABE and EAL students is to invest in society as a whole. In addition, we advocated for consistency in Financial Aid Offices across the Province, and a reworking of the Adult Upgrading Grant and its rules away from Canada Student Loan rules. Overall, we suggested a learner-defined approach over a more narrow approach of education for employment, and the importance of setting policies for developmental education that answer the calls for action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

At the conclusion of this meeting, we were told not to expect too much too soon and that this consultative process involved many constituencies. We will keep you posted, and we will continue to advocate.

Karen Shortt
President – VCCFA
Office 604-688-6210
Cell 604-992-1464

ABE Policy Discussions: Emerging from a bleak period in BC’s social history and where we want to go

Provincial ABE policy discussions are underway, and we are pleased about that. Now, more than ever, we need to understand how BC Liberal government policy, for more than a decade, worked to diminish and destabilize adult basic education in the province. During our upcoming policy discussions we need to be frank about those failures and steer clear of bad policy that raises barriers and reduces access for ABE students. From the blog’s archives (Dec 2014), I am reposting Re-Framing the Conversation: Respecting Adult Basic Education in BC.  The report is a source of accessible information on adult education policies in BC and in Canada, neoliberal effects on access to education, policy rules, portraits of adult basic education students and statistics on public funding for adult education.


Literacy PEI Executive Director tells it like it is

“Executive director Amanda Beazley does not mince words in a letter sent to all Atlantic premiers, MPs, senators and media” following news that the Federal Government is cutting core funding to adult literacy programs in that province.–literacy-alliance-calling-on-politicians-to-back-essentia.html

Literacy Nova Scotia International Literacy Day statement

The Federal Government has expressed a desire to support skills training and digital literacy for Canadians in the face of increased automation and AI, and in the interest of equity as the digital society intensifies. In this latest post from her blog ‘As I was saying’ Brigid Hayes wonders why the Federal Government is cutting funding to the very programs that do this work?

As I was saying...

Below is a news release from Literacy Nova Scotia outlining the dire situation facing literacy programs and coalitions.

For Immediate Release: International Literacy Day 2017

Friday September 8, 2017 is International Literacy Day, a time to acknowledge the importance of education, learning and skill development in a rapidly evolving world. Adult literacy programs are vital to Canadians who try to build better lives for themselves and their families. Workers need these programs to gain the essential skills required to participate in our increasingly digital economy. Family literacy programs support skill-building opportunities for children while encouraging essential skill development for parents.

To simply cut funding off to literacy programs doesn’t make economic or moral sense, but that is exactly what is happening. The four Atlantic Literacy Coalitions requested $600,000 – $150,000 of funding for core programs for each, but were denied. The result is that the PEI Literacy Alliance, the long-running…

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Protecting and rebuilding Canada’s adult literacy resources and collections

I am working on a project that tells the story of NALD/COPIAN and the fate of adult literacy collections in the wake of cuts to national and provincial literacy programs in recent years. This work has brought me into contact with people and organizations who are working to protect these resources from the virtual/actual recycling bin.

One of these is Learning in Solidarity, a book as well as a website hosted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Visit their adult literacy timeline for a primer on Canada’s history of adult and worker education, or their resources for setting up a worker centred literacy program. The book and website are the products of collective knowledge from 25 years of adult literacy programming within the labour movement, with relevance to many other literacy sectors and settings.

Do you know of other efforts to save the stories of adult literacy work in Canada? Please feel free to post to this blog, or to contact Suzanne Smythe directly.