Canada

Raise-a-Reader: Province of B.C. renews $500,000 in literacy funding

“With the disruption the pandemic has caused to our schools, it’s more important than ever to provide safe learning environments and connect parents with children to storey-telling groups, especially in communities in rural, remote and Indigenous areas of the province.” — B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming

VANCOUVER September 06 2019. Education Minister Rob Fleming asks elementary students " Who read over the summer? " at a Raise a Reader photo shoot, Vancouver, September 06 2019. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG staff photo) 00058577A [PNG Merlin Archive]

The upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to schools and learning routines points to the need for support for literacy programs even more than usual, says B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming.

The province has renewed funding for The Vancouver Sun’s annual Raise-a-Reader literacy campaign with a $500,000 grant, the minister announced recently.

“These are tough times for families and kids,” Fleming told Postmedia News. “With the disruption the pandemic has caused to our schools, it’s more important than ever to provide safe learning environments and connect parents with children to storey-telling groups, especially in communities in rural, remote and Indigenous areas of the province.”

The literacy campaign, which has raised $19 million over the last two decades, funds dozens of community organizations through Decoda Literacy Solutions, the only province wide literacy organization.

The programs, many of which have switched to online platforms during the pandemic, “keep people engaged and reading and literacy programs provide benefits beyond the intellectual, they also help kids emotionally and socially, and that’s essential in this time of higher degree of isolation,” said Fleming.

“We have to adapt to the new normal, with a focus on the things that really matter, like strong lifelong literacy skills,” he said.

The provincial investment to the Raise-a-Reader campaign since it launched in 1997 is $8.4 million.

The 2020 Raise-a-Reader campaign included stories in The Vancouver Sun’s print and online editions to highlight some of the programs it has funded.

“​​One of the most important roles of a public library is supporting parents and caregivers so that young children develop a love of language, reading and learning,” said Christina de Castell, Vancouver Public Library’s chief librarian.

“Thanks to funding from Raise-a-Reader and the generous support of its donors, VPL is able to build on our foundation of books and reading to help thousands of children and families establish a strong foundation of early literacy though programs like Mother Goose and Man in the Moon.” ​​

The literacy skills of almost half of British Columbians aged 16 to 65 may make it difficult for them to understand newspapers, follow instruction manuals, read health information, fill out a tax return or read a rental agreement, according to Decoda.

And about half of the province’s population of the same age may have difficulty calculating interest on a car loan, using information on a graph or determining medicine dosage, according to research one by Decoda, which provides resources, training, funds and support for community-based literacy programs and initiatives in 400-plus B.C. communities.

Some 16 per cent of British Columbians were at a Level 1 literacy or below in 2012, according to an international survey (the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) that 27,000 Canadians participated in.

Level 1 literacy means struggling with filling out a form at work, navigating a website, finding information in a list sent home from preschool, using information on a food label or comparison shopping.

Improved literacy can improve a person’s job prospects, increase pay, decrease work-related stress and increase the likelihood of participating in adult education and job-related training.

And in the community, it can increase community participation and volunteering, political involvement and increase the likelihood of inclusion in society.

Last year, funds raised through Raise-a-Reader helped bring literacy program to more than 65,000 children and their caregivers through more than 5,000 programs. And there’s still time to donate.

slazaruk@postmedia.com

How to donate

Since its launch in 1997, Raise-a-Reader has provided more than $19 million to promote literacy in B.C.

You can make a donation any time. Here’s how:

• Online at raiseareader.com

• By cheque, payable to Vancouver Sun Raise-a-Reader:

1125 Howe St., #980

Vancouver, B.C.  V6Z 2K8

Facebook:facebook.com/raiseareadervan/

Twitter: @RARvancouver

Football news:

Rashford with 4 goals led the race of scorers of the season Champions League
Holand scored the most goals (12) in the first 10 matches in the Champions League
Pirlo about 0:2 with Barca: this match will help Juventus grow
Griezmann did not make any effective actions in 6 matches under Koeman
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Leipzig made Manchester United work hard. Rashford had a big impact on the game
Roberto victory over Juventus: the Best response to the unrest in Barcelona - it's a game
Ronald Koeman: Barcelona played their best match of the season against Juventus. We had a lot of chances