Illiteracy: Canada’s inconvenient truth

In Canada, low literacy skills are one of society’s hidden handicaps -- statistics show more than 40 per cent of adults struggle with reading and comprehension skills -- raise-a-reader campaign.

In Canada, low literacy skills are one of society’s hidden handicaps — statistics show more than 40 per cent of adults struggle with reading and comprehension skills — raise-a-reader campaign.

Where are all these functionally illiterates coming from? Is there a factory grinding ’em out? The answer is yes, and it’s called your neighborhood public school.

Reading is not a natural biological awakening; It’s an acquired skill. Reading problems start early, and they do not go away without a fight. If kids do not learn to read by 3rd grade, they’re educationally dead.

The most fundamental responsibility of schools is teaching kids to read, yet nearly 30 per cent of 3rd graders fail to read even at the basic level. By high school, 3 in 10 do not graduate fully on time.

As it stands, reading instruction in our schools is like a game of musical chairs where a third of the players lose their seats even before the music starts. Public schools repeat proven failure.

The good news is that near failure-proof methods of teaching all children to read are already available. What are we waiting for?

Dr. Lal Sharma

Chilliwack, B.C.

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