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Shocking Number Of Canadian University Grads Don't Hit Basic Literacy Benchmark
The Huffington Post
Toronto (Canada)
April 29, 2014

About a quarter of Canadian university graduates don't hit a basic literacy benchmark, according to recent data.

A study that evaluates adult literacy, math, and problem-solving skills has found that 27 per cent of Canadians with at least a bachelor's degree don't have what has been historically considered the basic level of literacy to function in modern society.

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) study uses five levels to assess respondents' proficiency in literacy and numeracy. While PIACC doesn't state this, past OECD studies have noted that Level 3 is widely considered the minimum standard.

Tasks at Level 3 require readers to navigate complex texts to find and interpret information, and to know how to discard info that is inaccurate. Readers also need to identify big themes across
several texts.
U. of Toronto
Six per cent of Canadian grads were found to function at Level 1 or below.

Tasks at this level involve reading short, simple texts to find one piece of information, and understanding very basic vocabulary.

And the overall stats for numeracy were even worse than literacy, with 31 per cent functioning at less than Level 3.

The place of Canadian grads among those from other countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) wasn't great, either. Australia, Denmark, Korea, Japan, and Estonia are all ahead of Canada.

In a December column in University Affairs, Nicholas Dion and Vicky Maldonado argue that universities have no way to assess native English speakers' literacy, and that the students may not gain the necessary literacy skills during their time at school.

They also suggest that the Level 3 benchmark is too low "to reflect the academic achievements expected of university graduates – those who go on to compete to become engineers, scientists, researchers or public servants." Only 29 per cent of Canadians with bachelor's degrees can function at Levels 4 and 5.

University grads still place better than the average Canadian, however. Almost 50 per cent of Canadians score lower than Level 3, and 17 per cent function at Level 1 or below.
     May 2014
   The material presented in this article was compiled by
   the Editor from  
Books from Afghanistan

Since the start of our program in 2007
we have distributed 3.8 million books to
Afghan Children!
The Books for Afghanistan (BFA) program is part of the work of the educational nonprofit Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK), which publishes children’s books under the imprint Hoopoe Books.
The Teaching-Stories published by Hoopoe Books are part of Afghanistan’s rich storytelling tradition and for centuries were told and retold in tea houses, on street corners and bazaars, and by family members and friends as they sat around the fire on winter nights. Children learned about themselves and their world through these stories, and through repeated telling adults, too, obtained insight and wisdom to benefit their own experiences and choices. In this way, they form a bridge between the older generation, who may be familiar with these tales, and the younger generation, who must become literate in order to succeed in the modern world.

Our curriculum can also be used for adult literacy and after school literacy programs. These traditional tales are thinking tools for all ages.

At the beginning of this year TAF also distributed 55,500 Hoopoe Books in Dari-Pashto bilingual and in English editions to 111 schools in five provinces: Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Nangarhar, and Laghman.

From recent feedback, we are already finding that children who own a Hoopoe book share it with their friends and read it to their siblings and mothers, thus initiating family literacy, at least in an elementary way.

“While formal education usually consists of direct instructions (‘do this,’ ‘memorize that’), stories such as those in Hoopoe’s series take a gentler approach that encourages readers to think for themselves instead of telling them what to believe.”
—Noorullah Babrakzai, Enchanting Children Stories from Afghanistan, Multicultural Perspectives

Thought patterns developed through familiarity with these tales promote a flexibility of mind that cannot coexist with extremist beliefs.

So many Afghan families have to focus on food, clothes and safety before they can begin to think about education, let alone books for their children. The program’s goals are to improve the reading and writing skills of all students and to educate them about the importance of reading.

Even when Afghan children are able to attend school, class sizes are upwards of 40 students per class, and urban schools are obliged to operate 2, 3 or even 4 shifts per day, reducing the school day to about 4 hours per child and the school year to about 5 months.

                                  Many schools have no buildings
In collaboration with The Asia Foundation (TAF) we will be working with The Afghan Public Library Directorate on an exciting new project: a
Mobile Library program for primary school children. Each Mobile library holds over 9,000 books for students from grades 1 through 6, and by June 2014, the Directorate hopes to expand the program and take these Mobile Libraries to ten more provinces.



World Book Night: cops are called as
Idao teen hands out challenged book

On World Book Night in Meridian, Idaho, police were summoned when a high school student and bookstore workers handed out copies of 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie.
The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Massachusetts(USA)

April 28, 2014 by
Molly Driscoll

World Book Night and challenged books became intertwined on April 23, the 2014 celebration of WBN, when a high school student began distributing copies of Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” which had been taken off a reading list at her school due to complaints from parents.

Brady Kissel, a 17-year-old student at Junior Mountain View High in Meridian, Id., began distributing copies of “Diary” in Kleiner Park to teenagers on April 23 along with three employees from local bookstore Rediscovered Books. The Meridian school board had voted to take the book off a supplemental reading list for tenth-graders after parents complained about the book.

Kissel had gotten 350 signatures for a petition to protest the book's removal from the reading list, which she showed the school board at the meeting on April 2 at which “Diary” was banned. Sara Baker of Seattle, Wash., and Jennifer Lott of Spokane, Wash., learned of the incident and started a fundraising drive to buy enough copies of “Diary” for the 350 students who had signed Kissel’s petition and the copies were bought through Rediscovered Books.

According bookseller industry newsletter Shelf Awareness, when 315 copies of the book were handed out by Kiseel and Rediscovered Books employees on World Book Night, police arrived at Kleiner Park, saying someone had called them, worried that young people were getting copies of the book without having permission from a parent.



Literacy Foundation celebrates 15th Anniversary

Canadian Newswire
Montreal (CANADA), May 1, 2014
To celebrate the 15th edition of its program, The Gift of Reading, the Literacy Foundation is pleased to announce that 38,504 brand new books will be distributed to that many underprivileged children aged 0-12. The Foundation and program spokesperson, actress Marie Turgeon, are proud to reveal the record results of this initiative aimed at preventing the reading difficulties that can lead to young people dropping out of school and then to illiteracy.

Broad distribution in targeted neighbourhoods

"Enjoying a brand new book all of one's own is not a privilege that everyone has," emphasized spokesperson Marie Turgeon. "For a disadvantaged child used to being given castoffs, receiving a new book, specially chosen for him or her by a donor, is a true gift!" Since 1999, more than 361,500 new books have been distributed in this way across Quebec.

The books donated by the general public in November and December in 145 bookstores and more than 100 libraries were sorted and inspected before being distributed to the donors' regions. Hundreds of book distribution events will be taking place in May 2014 with 507 establishments throughout Quebec: elementary schools, daycare centres, Famille grassroots organizations and non-profit organizations.

Under a partnership with the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation, 20,000 of these new books will be distributed to pre-school-age children (aged 0-5). In this way, we hope to prepare a larger number of children more effectively for when they start school.

Taking action at every age

The Literacy Foundation also wishes to take advantage of the allocation of the books to underprivileged children in order to target parents and raise their awareness as to their role as models and educators. "It often happens that parents with low reading proficiency undertake literacy training so they can read their children stories or help them with their homework," stated Foundation CEO, Diane Mockle. An information sheet on the Info-Alpha referral line (1-800-361-9142) accompanying each gift helps reach parents with low reading skills through The Gift of Reading.

Edmonton man graduates from high school – at age 90 (Canada)
May 9, 2014
A 90-year-old Edmonton man who left high school when he was 15 to take care of his family has received his high school diploma alongside his grandson.
A 90-year-old Edmonton man has had his dream of graduating from high school fulfilled.

Walter Ross got two standing ovations last night as he shuffled across a stage to get his diploma along with his grandson and more than 300 teenagers from St. Francis Xavier High School.

Ross had to leave school when he was 15 to help his family after his dad suffered a heart attack.

He tried to get his diploma through correspondence, but failed his French course.

Recently, the provincial government decided to give him credit for the missing course due to his life experience, and granted him his diploma.

He says he’s glad he got through last night’s ceremony without embarrassing anybody.

He also says having his diploma doesn’t mean he’s going to stop learning.

He’s still taking French lessons and says next year he plans to take up the piano.






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