07 February 2012

Literacy plan still MIA #nlpoli #cdnpoli

salpNewfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the country.

There’s a huge demand for skilled labour in the province and that illiteracy level doesn’t help.

The 1992 Strategic Economic Plan recognised the connection between literacy and economic development:  it’s not like government officials weren’t generally aware of the concept.

And yet:

“There are no province-wide initiatives to deal with family literacy, aboriginal literacy, English as a Second Language, GED (General Educational Development) preparation or workplace literacy and essential skills,” [Literacy NL executive director Caroline Vaughan] said.

That’s a killer quote taken from a story the Telegram ran Monday about a news release from Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador.  They are wondering where the heck the strategic literacy plan went. 

The Telegram again:

Literacy NL said is was told by the province last September the plan would be released in the 2011 calendar year.

In case you are left scratching your head, be assured that the provincial government started work on a literacy plan in 2008.  They even had consultations.

As you can see from the picture, they started work on it so long ago that the link is dead from the news release announcing the consultation to the consultation document. In fact if you try and find anything on “literacy” in the education department, you’ll find yourself out of luck.  Most the links in this search your humble e-scribbler tried on Monday night turned up 404s – page not found. Ditto another search run from the front page of the government website.

You really couldn’t make this shit up.

If you want a strategic literacy plan from the government, you can find one.

It’s a link to one developed 11 years ago when Judy Foote was education minister.

You really, really couldn’t make this up.

And if you want to find the adult learning and literacy section, you will have to guess that it is now part of Joan Burke’s new department of advanced learning and skills development.  The government’s website won’t tell you where it is, though.

A search of the advance education department website for “literacy plan” redirects to a search of the old human resources, labour and employment department. That’s foolish since adult literacy belonged to education before the recent re-organization. Luckily for the government types, people who have a problem with literacy likely don’t have enough computer knowledge to get totally frigged up by the government’s website. They wouldn’t be able to get to the advanced education site to get misdirected by the search engine.

You really, really, really could not make this stuff up.

That’s not to say that successive ministers of education haven’t done something about adult literacy.

In 2010, education minister Darin King issued a news release that endorsed an awareness program on literacy being launched by the four Atlantic provinces.

In 2009, the education department issued a news release on behalf of the Council of the Federation to announce the Council had recognised someone here for achievement in adult literacy.

Aside from those news releases, though, the education department hasn’t been able to deliver the latest update to the provincial literacy plan. 

Regular readers of these e-scribbles will be noticing a familiar pattern here.  For whatever reason, the current administration cannot seem to deliver anything. They’ve got a chronic problem.:

  • Serial Government:  the “Northern Strategic Plan” that was out of date before they released it.
  • Serial Government:  the original business department.
  • What plan was that again? The NSP also wasn’t much of a plan;  it was pretty much just a list of spending.  Sounds suspiciously like the $5.0 billion infrastructure “strategy” in the most recent Auditor General’s report.
  • A list as long as your arm:  Check the section on building maintenance in the AG report and you’ll find another example of government’s fundamental management problems.  Hundreds of buildings need repairs.  Some need so much overdue maintenance work it would be cheaper to tear the buildings down and build a new one.
  • The missing oil royalty regime:  according to the energy plan from 2007, the Tories were supposed to deliver a natural gas royalty regime (under development since 1997) as well as a completely new oil royalty regime.  They posted something called a gas royalty in April 2010 but the thing isn’t back by regulations.  Is it real or just a fake?
  • There’s also the churn in senior management.
  • And the fact that massive cost over-runs and delays are now the norm in provincial government public works.

The literacy plan joins a long list of commitments that are missing in action or went missing for years.

You can read Literacy NL’s  submission to the consultation on the literacy plan here.

- srbp -