Nearly half of adults living in Canada struggle with literacy.
Low literacy is a hidden disability that doesn’t get much recognition outside of school, and as an adult it can be hard to find the right kind of help, especially in small communities.
The Parksville Qualicum Adult Literacy Society (PQALS) was formed by a group of volunteer tutors from the Central Vancouver Island Job Opportunities Building Society’s (CVIJOBS) tutoring program to lend a helping hand to adult literacy services in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“Lower literacy correlates to lower salaries, poorer health and even shorter lives. People with lower literacy have more trouble building a stable career. And these days, as many jobs demand computer skills, the degree of literacy necessary to learn them becomes critical for many workers,” said Valerie Gunn, president of PQALS.
In Parksville Qualicum Beach the only ‘storefront’ of basic adult literacy and English-as-a Second Language (ESL) is the tutoring program run by CVIJOBS.
Before the COVID pandemic, the program served between 50 and 70 clients annually, and has helped more than 2,000 learners in 30 years of operation.
During the pandemic, the tutoring program has seen challenges delivering its services online. While the number of learners and volunteer tutors may have dropped, they are expected to rise this fall as COVID safety restrictions lift.
Over the years the literacy program has helped many area residents reach their various goals; from boosting basic literacy levels, completing work related training courses, achieving Grade 12 and upgrading for post-secondary admittance.
PQALS recognizes the great value of having a strong literacy service in the community, and has set itself three tasks: work to increase awareness of the need for adult literacy support, including ESL; to initiate a series of tutoring workshops for the volunteer tutors; and to continue to seek additional funding to support increased staff time.
For information on how to get a tutor, or how to become a tutor, contact tutoring program co-ordinator Tiana Kaczor or program assistant Megan Dombrowski at 250-248-3205.
– NEWS Staff, submitted