The state of lifelong learning in Canada

The adult literacy rate over 15 years of age in Canada was 99% in 2014, according to World Data Atlas. Canada uses many ways to measure its literacy out of which Composite learning index is the most important.

What is Composite learning index (CLI)?

CLI, which was developed by Canadian Council on Learning, aims to measure the yearly progress of the sate of lifelong learning. It was created to assess the national learning conditions locally and regionally.

Multiple data sets and statistical indicators are used to gauge the ways that Canadians learn- in home, school, workplace and the community. The CLI is made of 26 specific measures and 17 indicators, which are used to determine the effectiveness of lifelong learning for over 4,500 communities in Canada.

How does it gauge the progress?

How do you learn? Do you continue learning after you pass from school or graduate from your university? CLI takes into account all that. The indicators are divided in four different categories:

  • Learning to know– includes aspects like reading and numeracy skills, problem solving skills, post-secondary education.
  • Learning to do– focuses on hands-on skills like workplace training, access to learning centers, job-related training and so on.
  • Learning to live together– includes social and interpersonal skills.
  • Learning to be– involves metrics on self-awareness and personal discovery with attributes like media exposure, cultural events, arts, sports.

Additional ways to measure literacy in Canada

Canada also created the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) to measure adult literacy. The survey analyzes the different levels of literacy and establishes the reasons and its economic and social impact.

The Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) was also conducted by Canada to assess the skills of the adult population. It analyzed the numerical, prose and document skills of people aged between 16 to 65 years.

The state of lifelong learning

Canadians understand the importance of lifelong learning and the contribution it makes to the success of the nation. There is a comprehensive formal education system starting from pre-school to post-graduate backed by a strong bureaucracy. Informal learning is also available from various sources like television, and radio.Parents also understand the value of learning and take steps to foster it at home. Children and the youth take part in formal education after which they find employment.

There are many formal and non-formal institutions that contribute towards this adult learning. Educational institutes are the backbone of adult training and learning followed by workplace or job related training. Canada ranks in the middle parts of OECD countries in its participation in further education and there is also a significant participation from the population.

Lifelong learning is also supported by community resources like public libraries. They are major lifelong learning centers providing knowledge and information to the public for years.

Lifelong learning is carried out by various stakeholders like the government, formal education institutions, informal agencies and numerous NGOs who implement and carry out lifelong learning initiatives.

Early childhood learning knowledge centre: a path towards improved early learning

“Learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins, and continues throughout life ….”

~ James J. Heckman

The first five years of a child’s life determines his future success in his school, professional life and other aspects of life. This phase is the ideal period to develop the four important skills- physical, cognitive, emotional and social.

A study by Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) found that 29.5% or 1 out of 4 children about to take admission in Grade 1 has behavioral or learning difficulties. The survey also reveals that there is a huge gap between the prevailing early learning system and the expectations of the parents.

To fill in the gap, CCL has established the Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre under The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development in collaboration with the University of Montreal.

Role of the Early childhood learning knowledge centre

CCL considers early childhood learning to be among the five priority issues along with adult learning, aboriginal learning and so on. It has set up the association of organizations called the Early Childhood Knowledge Centre to be the source of knowledge and expertise on early childhood learning.

The role of the government and the CCL is to identify and promote best practices along with leveraging monitoring and reporting on the issue of early learning conditions in Canada. This includes enabling children to help develop their cognitive abilities early.

To do this, CCL will also identify important aspects for research and build up a network so that crucial knowledge on early childhood learning can be exchanged seamlessly across the nation.

The centre will come up with measures which ensure that every child attains his or her full potential.

Another important area covered by the centre involves developing additional indicators for assessing early learning. It will also encourage the use of the effective indicators that deliver important information on development of the child prior to birth till 4 years of age. The centre also cultivates awareness about environmental indicators in which the child grows up and ways to facilitate learning.

Currently the centre receives a funding up to $1.5 million each year to run its operations. It represents all of the stakeholders of early learning including researchers, educators, child practitioners and community associations. It will benefit each and every professional who is provides their service to guardians from pregnancy to entry in formal education of the child.

The days ahead…

The future of Canadian children rests on the shoulders of the stakeholders including the government. They have to be provided a strong foundation to realize their full potential in life. But it cannot be achieved unless complete information about the state of early learning is available.

The Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre has taken role to develop strategies and practices to optimize the collection of information on early learning. It has a long way to go to fulfill its mission.

The state of adult learning and literacy in Canada

Literacy and essential skills are still a problem for 15% of Canada’s population who find it hard to work with computers or make calculations. The adult learning initiatives help them to recognize, comprehend, analyze, compute information and communicate effectively. It is important to their success and enriches the communities increasing their productivity and wellbeing.

Adult education gained an important consideration when its need was felt through findings of the Council on Learning.

The history of the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL)

The CCL used to be an authoritative and independent body which dealt with lifelong education before it stopped functioning in 2012. The non-profit research council was set up in 2004 and assessed the effectiveness of prevailing education system and advised how things can be improved.

The research work helped the Canadian government form policies and initiatives based on solid information. The CCL also developed the Composite Learning Index used to measure literacy rate in Canada. The council also published comprehensive reports on the state of Canadian learning in various areas like post-secondary education, health literacy, lifelong learning and so on.

The Conservative government decided not to continue the grant of CCL from 2010, which unfortunately made up 95% of its funds. CCL stopped its operations in April 2012 with a motion for dissolution.

Present initiatives to improve adult literacy in Canada

The CCL was closed down with an objective of aligning adult learning with provincial conditions for better results. Since then the government has worked with the provinces to develop policies and programs to improve adult literacy.

Currently, the government is working in collaboration with over 400 organizations spread over Canada to facilitate literacy and improvement of essential skills each year. Programs are undertaken to improve the skills of writing, reading, numeracy and document use.

The initiatives also concentrate on developing thinking skills, digital skills, oral communication, and other areas so that they can be effective and successful at their work.

1. New policies and legislation across provinces

Different provinces in Canada have their own legislation, policies, and programs dealing with adult literacy and skill development. For example, states like Nova Scotia and Manitoba have created special acts on adult learning back in 2009 – 2010.

2. Introduction of new programs

The government also runs many programs, which develops literacy and basic skills in adults. Recently Ontario government doubled their funding on adult learning for the coming four years. It sanctioned $185 million which will help 80,000 adults to develop their math, computer and literacy skills. Each year more than 42,000 applicants participate in Ontario’s adult education initiatives.

3. Online workplace programs

The Canadian government has also come up with an online workplace training program implemented by the Restigouche CBDC. It is working with participants from 5 provinces made up of women, indigenous people and minority communities. Employers can use the program to help their workforce to develop critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making.