What is literacy?

Being literate means that you are able to understand and analyse what you read, plus write in a variety of ways depending on the purpose, such as filling out forms, sending text messages, creating lists or writing a story.

Read Write Now also encourages the use of technology as part of building literacy. We don't want to see our students left behind in digital literacy.

Who needs literacy?

Literacy is not just about reading books, it includes many skills such as being able to use phone books and online directories, automatic teller machines and online banking, street directories and online maps, bus timetables, completing taxation and other forms, and simple maths needed in everyday life - so everyone needs literacy!

Why is literacy difficult for some adults?

It is estimated that 90% of reading failure occurs in the first two years of school for reasons such as;

  • Children develop at different rates - and some are just not ready to learn how to read when they first start school. They don't catch on to the initial teaching and get further behind each year because subsequent instruction doesn't make sense.
  • Inexperienced teachers were often allocated to the youngest classes and initial teaching may have been inadequate.
  • Illness, family problems or frequent changes of school resulted in interrupted learning.
If you have literacy and numeracy problems does it mean you have learning disabilities?

Not necessarily. Some people missed out at school due to ill health, difficult family circumstances or disrupted education. Others have lost skills they once had through lack of any opportunities to use them or because of lack of confidence. The good news is that it is never too late to learn.

Literacy skills are like muscles, they are maintained and strengthened through regular use (Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society, Statistics Canada, 1997).