Nearly Half of Canadians are Functionally Illiterate
Date: Thursday, November 10 2005
(Yukon residents are smartest!)
Nearly half of Canadians lack reading skills: report
Last Updated Wed, 09 Nov 2005 13:13:58 EST
Nearly half of Canadians aged 16 and over and a good chunk of university graduates fail to meet the basic standards for reading comprehension, suggests a Statistics Canada report on literacy skills.
The 2003 survey released Wednesday tested 23,000 Canadians on their skills in four areas:
# Prose literacy – understanding longer reading materials including books, editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.
# Document literacy – understanding shorter reading materials including job applications, payroll forms, maps, tables and charts.
# Numeracy – math skills.
# Problem-solving, goal-directed thinking problems like event planning.
Among adults aged 16 to 65, about 42 per cent scored below Level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold needed for coping in society.
(Proficiency was rated on a basis of Level 1 to 5, or lowest to highest.)
But when respondents aged 66 and over were also included, those scoring below Level 3 in prose literacy increased to nearly half (48 per cent), or some 12 million adults aged 16 and over.
The report also found 12 per cent of university graduates were at a Level 1 and 2 grade, with two per cent at Level 1.
"The 12 per cent is still puzzling," Francois Nault, Statistics Canada's director of the centre for education statistics, told CBC News Online.
Nault said more analysis is needed, but he believed the low rates could be attributed to graduates who are now elderly and whose literacy skills have deteriorated.
Yukon residents scored the highest literacy rates in the country, suggests the report.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 10, 2005]