Following the 2017 evaluation of the Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program, the government of Ontario has engaged the literacy field in seeking improvements to the program.
The province held a consultation on October 5, 2017 with 250 people from the LBS programs in the province. That consultation identified 8 ways to improve the program:
- Providing continuous communication and regular engagement opportunities with the LBS network in order to hear from the people who know the program best. The Ministry also needs to create opportunities for everyone involved in the LBS program to come together to strengthen the support system within the LBS network.
- Improving perception of LBS and literacy by developing a marketing strategy that increases public awareness and understanding of the range of services LBS offers and the benefits individuals can gain from participating in the program.
- Enhancing the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF), particularly the learner Milestones and Culminating Tasks, to create a curriculum that is more responsive to the goals, progress, and lives of learners.
- Addressing participation barriers by updating the program’s Eligibility and Suitability Criteria to make the program accessible for anyone who needs the service.
- Allocating more funds for the resource and support needs of learners, including social support, mental health and learning disability resource, and digital literacy needs.
- Providing more resources, support and professional development training for service providers that are responsive to the regional needs of every sector and stream in the LBS network.
- Enhancing collaboration between other provincial service programs and LBS to improve the referral and connection to people who could benefit in participating in the program.
- Providing sufficient, equitable, and stable funding that is allocated with transparency to the LBS network to increase and strengthen the services provided to learners and support needs of service providers.
The full report can be accessed here: Ontario LBS Symposium – October 2017
More recently, a public consultation has been launched on “improving adult education.” Until the end of January, learners (current and past), teachers, program administrators, support organizations and employers are invited to review the consultation document and provide feedback through an online survey. Strengthening Ontario’s Adult Education System
The consultation paper articulates,
“The government’s vision is of a seamless, learner-centred adult education system that provides opportunities for all adults living in Ontario to develop the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in Ontario’s highly skilled workforce and constantly evolving society. This vision is built on the principles of accessibility and inclusion.”
The paper identifies the pillars of a strong adult education system as learner-centred opportunities, clear, coordinated pathways, meaningful outcomes, and collaboration among government departments.
The government has cast a wide net of programs that fall within the scope of adult education including
- the Adult Non-Credit Language Training Program for immigrants, offering both English- and French-language training, delivered by English and French school boards (Citizenship and Immigration MCI)
- literacy, numeracy, and digital skills training through the Literacy and Basic Skills program, delivered by community agencies, school boards, and Ontario colleges (Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development MAESD)
- academic upgrading programs and the Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate, delivered by Ontario colleges to support entry into apprenticeship and college (MAESD)
- secondary school courses for adults that provide credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and/or prerequisite credits needed for postsecondary education, delivered by both English and French school boards (Ministry of Education)
- the Ontario Bridge Training Program for highly skilled, internationally trained immigrants, delivered by a variety of not-for-profit organizations in Ontario, including colleges and universities, occupational regulatory bodies, employer associations, and community agencies (MCI)
It is good to see Ontario reaching out and consulting the field. A more open and transparent process, working in collaboration with the literacy field, can only help to bring about positive changes to the program, enhance collaboration and begin to break down silos.