New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network

Adult Literacy in New Brunswick

Over the last five years there has been a noticeable decline in the number of adults with low literacy levels participating in the one-to-one free, confidential tutoring sessions offered by the affiliated community councils of Laubach Literacy New Brunswick. A similar trend has been experienced by the South East Regional Adult Learning Board with their Community Adult Learning Centres which offer free, small GED classes available to those who did not complete high school.

Functional literacy in today’s world is critical for all ages and in our daily lives. We are not doing well in New Brunswick as international studies have revealed over the past thirty years. The mandate of our provincial schooling system attempts to address this for its students, but a more sustained effort is needed for a large segment of N.B. English and French speaking citizens over the age of sixteen.

In 2002 ABC CANADA Literacy Corporation published their report on a national study titled Why aren’t they calling? We, the Greater Moncton Literacy Advisory Board, are asking the same question. Among the many key questions addressed in the study plus those posed during a recent community meeting in Moncton included:

  • How many people have thought about taking upgrading since leaving school early?
  • Are they aware of local programs?
  • Does their level of education relate to perceived need for improvement?
  • How do we persuade potential learners that being functionally literate is so important?
  • How does age affect a person’s attitude toward further education?
  • What kinds of programs do those who have never completed high school prefer?
  • What is the relationship between literacy and essential skills?
  • How do we eliminate the social stigma associated with literacy levels?
  • What are the barriers in rural areas as well as urban settings to attaining functional literacy levels?
  • How do we overcome the apathy of and stimulate the acceptance of life-long learning, and create a learning culture in New Brunswick?

Those and other related questions need to be addressed. The help of experienced researchers will enable the results and recommendations arising from a study, initially for the south east New Brunswick region, to be implemented as a pilot project. The experience gained will be shared and proposed for the whole province.

A regional Action Team has been recruited and more members will be added in the coming weeks. Members of the NBSPRN who have experience with the many facets of adult literacy, and are interested in participating in the proposed study, are asked to contact Joanna Brown ( or Peter Sawyer ( with a summary of their experience and their specific interest. Everyone who responds will be contacted.

Copyright 2013
A Ginger Design