Nova Scotia Leads Atlantic Canada in Literacy Levels
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Adult Nova Scotians are functioning with literacy levels that meet the Canadian average and are better than the other Atlantic provinces, according to the Statistics Canada 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey released today, Nov. 9. “The results are a testament to Nova Scotians and the successful programs and initiatives like the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning, workplace education programs and community-based literacy initiatives,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “It’s also largely due to the ongoing efforts of our literacy and workplace partners.” The survey measured four skill areas, including prose literacy (continuous text such as books and newspaper articles), document literacy (discontinuous text such as graphs and charts), numeracy and problem solving. All skill areas are measured on a scale of zero to 500 points, with scores divided into five levels of proficiency. Level three (276-325 points) is the score considered necessary to function effectively in the modern knowledge-based economy. In 2003, 61.6 per cent of working age adults (16-65) in Nova Scotia had the prose literacy levels needed to effectively function in a modern, knowledge-based economy. Nova Scotia scored higher on all four scales when compared to the average for Atlantic Canada and when compared to scores for Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. The average overall literacy score for Nova Scotia was the same as the average scores for Norway and Bermuda, the two highest scoring countries in the survey. Nova Scotia also achieved higher average scores than the United States in prose literacy. “As one of Canada’s smaller provinces, it’s quite notable that we met the national average and performed better than more than half of the Canadian provinces and territories,” said Mr. Muir. “Literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills are profoundly important to individual Nova Scotians and to the future of the province.” Mr. Muir said that while government is pleased with the results, there is still work to do to help more Nova Scotians achieve the literacy levels they need to succeed in the province. The new data will be used to help develop future policies and procedures and will act as a baseline to help the Department of Education and its partners measure future literacy development efforts. The Department of Education is planning a provincial literacy and essential skills summit for January 2006 to assess its progress to date, inform partners of the international survey results and look at ways to collaboratively move the literacy and essential skills agenda forward in Nova Scotia. The International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey was last conducted in 1994. The Canadian and Atlantic region results have not changed significantly during the 10-year period. The 2003 survey included 20,000 Canadians and 1,272 Nova Scotians. This is the first year that specific Nova Scotia results have been available. Government is working with its partners to support programs and initiatives that help Nova Scotians of all ages improve their literacy and essential skills. Through Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning, the Department of Education provides more than $6.6 million in annual funding that helps nearly 5,000 Nova Scotian adults improve their literacy and essential skills levels. The department also provides more than $500,000 to support about 1,200 adults annually within Nova Scotia workplaces through the Workplace Education Initiative. More information about the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey is available at the Statistics Canada website at www.statcan.ca/english/dai-quo . A full report on the survey results will be available from Statistics Canada on Nov. 30.