"Government's commitment to literacy in B.C."
Letter by Tom Christensen, Minister of Education, Vancouver Sun, October 8, 2004

I'd like to set the record straight about our government's commitment to literacy in response to the article by Stephen Hume (School libraries suffer in a society that says it values reading, Oct. 6.).

A lack of literacy skills is a serious problem for many British Columbians. Our government has pledged to make B.C. the most literate location in North America by 2010 and we are working in partnership with school districts to achieve this goal.

School districts are in the best position to decide how to use their operating funding to improve literacy and to determine how much they want to spend on school libraries. Districts approach their literacy goals in different ways.

Some are using school librarians while others use literacy mentors. It's up to the districts to determine their own literacy strategies. These strategies include innovative programs to best meet the needs of their students. Student results are improving, showing us districts are making good decisions.

For example, the North Vancouver district has developed the Reading 44 program to improve reading for primary, intermediate and secondary levels. The heart of the program lies in twelve reading strategies and many classroom activities that encourage students to learn these strategies.

We have recently invested almost $15 million in literacy initiatives including new textbooks, computers, tools for teachers and parents and a school readiness campaign for three-year-olds. This is on top of a $313-million increase in education funding over the next three years.

Tom Christensen

Minister of education


© The Vancouver Sun 2004



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