Literacy is an issue of primary importance in the majority of industrialized countries.
Yet Québec has one of the two highest proportions of adults with low literacy skills of all Canadian provinces. Aware of the importance of early action and supporting family practices, the Québec government launched the Programme d’éveil à la lecture et à l’écriture dans les milieux défavorisés (Literacy awareness in disadvantaged communities) in 2003. The present research project was aimed at evaluating the program’s impacts on families, children, community organizations and the governmental institutions and services involved in the project.
More effort needs to be made to inform parents of the importance of literacy awareness.
Overall, the results indicate that while community organizations and government institutions and services are now more aware and better equipped when it comes to practices that encourage reading, and children have access to more reading-based activities, little work is being done with parents to encourage writing skills.
While the program has had a major impact throughout Québec, more effort needs to be made to inform parents of the importance of literacy awareness. The parents who are most in need of support when it comes to literacy awareness are not necessarily those who choose to take part in the activities offered, for various reasons including a fear of being judged, the number of children at home, a reluctance to disturb others, etc. For these parents, a gradual introduction to services beginning with individual intervention in the home by a known practitioner would develop trust and eventually lead to the possibility of further training and skill development. Likewise, priority should be given to activities for the whole family that include direct parental involvement.
The program’s main impact has been to increase collaboration between various partners on literacy awareness activities and outreach, a result that can be explained by the wide diversity of organizations involved in the program. Many communities have actively rallied around the issue of literacy awareness.
Julie Myre-Bisaillon, Université de Sherbrooke
Deposit of the research report: September 2010