About prose literacy l The prose literacy map of Canada l Using the map l Some definitions l About the data sources
About prose literacy
Prose literacy is one of several categories used to measure literacy. Others include document literacy (the skills needed to understand information in various formats such as charts, graphs, forms and maps), and numeracy (or quantitative literacy), the ability to apply mathematical skills to printed materials—like calculating a tip at a restaurant.
According to Statistics Canada, prose literacy is:
"The knowledge and skills needed to understand and use information from texts including editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.”
Prose literacy is an essential part of what many people consider “basic literacy,” and as such it is instrumental to developing a more sophisticated set of literacy skills.
Most Canadians understand the role that literacy plays in our social and economic prosperity; after all, we live in one of the most highly educated populations in the world.
However, as this prose literacy map of Canada shows, we may not be as literate as we think. According to the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS), 48 percent of adult Canadians (those 16 and over) had low levels of prose literacy—with some provinces having more than 50 percent.
A Level 2 on the prose literacy scale denotes someone who is able to deal with simple, straightforward material, but “their poor literacy makes it hard to conquer challenges such as learning new job skills.”
Adults who fall into this category have the skills to get by on a day-to-day basis, but are likely unprepared for the challenges posed by a rapidly changing society which demands a greater understating of technology.
With nearly half of adults in Canada having low prose literacy levels, CCL believes this should be a cause for concern.