PEDVAC set to mark International Literacy Day

Tribune-Post Staff
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PORT ELGIN, N.B. – Sept. 8, International Literacy Day, has long been a day to reflect upon the literacy needs around the world. Here in New Brunswick we often think of illiteracy being a third world country problem but that is far from the truth.

Submitted by

Val MacDermid

 

PORT ELGIN, N.B. – Sept. 8, International Literacy Day, has long been a day to reflect upon the literacy needs around the world. Here in New Brunswick we often think of illiteracy being a third world country problem but that is far from the truth.

It has been estimated that five million Canadians, more than 20 percent of the adult population, are functionally illiterate. In Westmorland County the percentage is even higher at 29. To be considered functionally literate an individual must be able to read and understand a newspaper.

Functionally illiterate individuals are forced to seek assistance to do many of the most basic tasks such as reading a prescription label, ordering from a menu, or filling out an application form. The belief that many of these individuals are immigrants is false. The majority of New Brunswick’s illiterate where born and raised in the province. For whatever reason, they were unable to learn to read and most have been socially impaired because of it.

Pedvac Foundation has been one of numerous organizations trying to assist those with literacy problems for many years. One-to-one free tutoring is available to anyone who wishes assistance with their reading and numeracy skills. Pedvac has also worked to assist with children in the area to ensure that they receive all the help that is possible.

This has included providing parents with classes on how to encourage their children to read, sending volunteers to the school each Family Literacy Day in January to read to each of the classrooms, holding reading initiatives at Pedvac, and for the first time this past spring providing volunteers for the Port Elgin Regional School’s ELF Program. For the latter, volunteers were trained to work with grade 2 students on a one-to-one basis with their reading skills.

“We heard all kinds of great stories about the ELF Program from the volunteers, to the parents, to the teachers,” stated Val MacDermid, Pedvac’s executive director. “The volunteers particularly enjoyed the one-to-one aspect of the reading and formed sound relationships with their partners. The reading levels of participants rose significantly and we can’t wait to get the program up and running this fall.

“The most difficult aspect of working with literacy issues with adults is reaching those in need. Newspaper articles, posters, and flyers are of little help in reaching those who require assistance. Word of mouth, TV ads, and radio spots are still the best ways to advertise our services. It’s not easy for someone to come forward and admit that they have no or limited reading skills. Following years of learning to cope without reading skills, most individuals have become masters of hiding their problem. Most people feel that it’s their fault that they lack this “mystical” skill but learning disabilities, familial traditions, and inability to attend school on a regular basis are most often the culprit.”

The week of Sept. 8, Pedvac will be displaying literacy materials including small give aways. Anyone who wishes further information, would like to volunteer to assist with literacy initiatives or would like to receive tutoring, should contact Pedvac at 538-2738 from 9-5, Tuesday through Friday.

Val MacDermid is the executive director for PEDVAC Foundation Inc.

Organizations: Port Elgin Regional School, PEDVAC Foundation

Geographic location: New Brunswick, PORT ELGIN, Westmorland County

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