A new tutoring program aimed at adults needing to upgrade their literacy skills in the community will get a good start thanks to thousands of dollars in funding from the province.
The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Literacy Committee will be getting $24,000 in government funding per year for the next two years.
Janice Williams, the new Community Adult Literacy program coordinator, said a good chunk of that money will be used to put together the new Adult Literacy Tutoring Program in order to get it off the ground.
From now until Sept. 26 she will be actively seeking volunteers to work with adults who need help upgrading their reading and writing skills. Whether it be navigating computer forms or something that they need to know for their job. Or maybe there are areas of reading that they never got to when they were in the school system or the school system didn’t work for them and they had to leave early.
Lesson plans will be based on need and interest.
“It can be challenging to return to studying as an adult. This program is perfect for English-language adults who want to work at their own level and at their own pace,” said literacy outreach coordinator with the MRPMK Community Literacy Committee Elaine Yamamoto.
In October Williams will be giving nine hours of training to the volunteers who sign up and by the end of October she is hoping to be able to match tutors to adult learners.
Williams says that according to Statistics Canada’s International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, more than 40 per cent of Canadian adults have low literacy. The survey was a large-scale co-operative effort undertaken in 2003, 2006 and 2008 by governments, national statistics agencies, research institutions and multi-lateral agencies that built on the International Adult Literacy Survey, the world’s first internationally comparative survey of adult skills undertaken in three rounds of data collection between 1994 and 1998.
“More than 40 per cent of adults in Canada have less than a level three literacy which is what adults basically need for a basic office job where there are digital components, where there are computer components and where there are critical thinking skills,” said Williams.
Williams spent the first five months of her contract with the literacy committee, that started in February, in the community doing research on the ground to identify who are the people in the community that need help and what sort of help do they need. She went to places like Work B.C., the school district, Katzie First Nation, the Friends In Need Food Bank and will soon be going to the Salvation Army, Ridge Meadows Ministries.
Now she is hoping to get volunteers who are committed to the program for the next six months and who are available a minimum of two hours per week. Learners can expect one tutoring session of one and a half hours per week, one-on-one with a tutor.
Williams wants to start off with ten volunteers, growing the program from there to 20 volunteers.
The free volunteer training sessions will take place over 10 days and part of the training will be teaching the volunteers structured lesson plans to get them started working with the very beginner learners and also the more intermediate.
“It will be very customized,” said Williams.
“Statistics also show that fewer jobs are created now that don’t require the digital world,” Williams continued.
“It’s the nature of our culture now, of our society, that more and more people are being required to have knowledge and workable skills.”
The Canadian Adult Literacy Program is funded by the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training, and is supported by the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Community Literacy Committee and the Fraser Valley Regional Library.
The CALP funding will also go to support the literacy committee’s small group programs for people learning English as an additional language geared towards newly arrived immigrants who are awaiting permanent resident status and long-time Canadian citizens who are still working to master English.
Yamamoto said that along with providing language support, these groups have been key to connecting women from all over the world to the community. The drop-in Women’s ESL Conversation Group has been running for eight years and is currently hosted by the Maple Ridge Public Library from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Thursday mornings.
On Wed. Sept. 18 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Williams will have an information table set up at the Maple Ridge Public Library at 22470 Dewdney Trunk Road.
Interested volunteers or adult learners requiring help can email firstname.lastname@example.org.