International Adult Learners’ Week being celebrated this week

Several events taking place across Canada; Canadians can celebrate by participating in literacy activities

(Toronto, ON, April 1, 2011) – International Adult Learners’ Week (IALW), an initiative that celebrates adult learners and the joy of lifelong learning, is being marked this week in Canada from April 2 to 9.

Officially launched in 2000 by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO alongside its partner organizations, IALW provides adult learners with a chance to express their challenges, share their success stories and highlight the learning opportunities available for those who want to improve their literacy skills.

“International Adult Learners’ Week is the perfect opportunity for Canadian adults to embrace lifelong learning and improve their literacy skills,” says Margaret Eaton, President of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “The stories that are being shared this week by adult learners across the country are very inspiring, and we hope they will encourage other adults to improve their reading, writing and math skills.”

A number of events and activities are taking place across the country to celebrate the week:

  • Literacy Nova Scotia is holding a contest for adult learners in the province. Learners are invited to celebrate the power of adult learning by putting words to paper or recording their story on video.
  • Campus Alberta Drayton Valley is hosting a Scrabble Night. It will be a fun-filled evening of learning and a great opportunity to meet new people.
  • The Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society is hosting "Learning for Life", a number of free workshops at the Downtown Activity Centre in Salmon Arm. Workshops include: Brain Fitness; Write Your Own Story: How and where to begin; Eat a Poem for Lunch; Facebook for Beginners; Celebrating the Story; Awakening the Writers’ Voice Within; and Texting 101 for Parents & Grandparents.
  • The Calgary Public Library, Crowfoot Branch is hosting ‘Champions of Learning’, an event including free seminars and resources for adult learners.
  • The University of Winnipeg plans to mark the celebration by asking adult learners at UWinnipeg to share their personal learning journeys – how and why they returned to pursue post-secondary education. The University plans to post these submissions on its website, starting the first week of April, and will host a wine-and-cheese party for all participants later that week.
  • Literacy groups in Edmonton, Alberta are hosting the Never Ending Learning Conference - a conference for and by adult learners in Edmonton.

Four out of 10 adult Canadians, age 16 to 65 - representing 9 million Canadians - struggle with low literacy. Less than 10 per cent of Canadians who could benefit from literacy upgrading programs actually enroll, yet the benefits of improving literacy levels are infinite.

“Attending (the literacy program) has given me the confidence in myself I never had before,” says Paula, an adult learner at St. Charles Adult Education Centre, a literacy program offered through the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board in Hamilton, Ontario. “It has encouraged me to look forward to my goals and go after them. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’m happy that I took this chance and came back to school. I have been meeting some wonderful teachers and classmates.”

Many personal stories being celebrated during IALW prove that increasing literacy levels and embracing lifelong learning can improve employment experiences, self-confidence, engagement in communities, and the overall quality of life. To read more inspiring stories from adult learners who have upgraded their skills, visit www.abclifeliteracy.ca.

All Canadians can celebrate IALW by embracing lifelong learning and practicing their literacy skills. Here are some activities to do during the week, and year-round, to help keep literacy skills sharp:

  • Sign up for a class or program to learn more about a subject of interest.
  • Take a professional development seminar at work.
  • Donate your time to a local literacy program and volunteer to tutor adult learners.
  • Read books, magazines and Internet sites about things that interest you, such as movies, news and travel.
  • Do the crossword, word jumble and/or Sudoku in the newspaper every day.
  • Visit your public library.
  • Write a letter to someone you haven’t contacted in a while.

If you or someone you know is interested in improving their reading, writing and math skills, look in the Yellow Pages directories under the heading LEARN or visit LookUnderLearn.ca to find a local literacy helpline.

To learn more about International Adult Learners’ Week, and to share your story about what inspired you to learn, visit our Facebook page.

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