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Causes of illiteracy

Potential solutions

Everyone has to work together to defeat illiteracy and its impact. Without the participation of individuals, community organizations, business and government, the situation will never be turned around. 

Here are some potential solutions to be considered immediately: 

Encourage corporate basic training.

In 2003, at the time of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS), 54% of adults with very low reading proficiency (Level 1) and 68% of adults with low proficiency (Level 2) were employed.

Main benefits of investing in basic training in the workplace:

  • Better job opportunities (prerequisite for access to lifelong learning)
  • Greater effectiveness at work
  • Greater competitiveness
  • More dynamic, enthusiastic workforce
  • Greater productivity
  • Stronger economy
  • Better occupational health and safety record
  • Higher retention levels (employees and clients)
  • Facilitate knowledge transfer from workers nearing retirement to employees of all ages.
  • Work with families to keep children in school and prevent illiteracy.
  • Give young people from underprivileged backgrounds the means to study.
  • Enhance access to education for Aboriginal people. 


Développer nos compétences en littératie : un défi porteur d’avenir, Rapport québécois de l’Enquête internationale sur l’alphabétisation et les compétences des adultes (EIACA) (Developing Our Literacy Skills: Meeting the Challenge of the Future, International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey [IALSS]—Quebec Report), 2003, Quebec City, Institut de la statistique du Québec, 256 pages. 

The 1% law: fostering the development and recognition of skilled manpower 

Why invest 1% in training?

  • Raising workforce skill levels to foster employment
  • Adjustment and entry into employment
  • Impact on the shortage of manpower
  • Lever for economic growth
  • Greater value given to corporate training 

What does this 1% entail?

The obligation to invest at least 1% of payroll in workforce training in a given calendar year. Companies which fail to do this have to pay an equivalent amount into a provincial fund to support the development of workforce training—the Fonds national de formation de la main-d’œuvre. This legislation applies only to firms whose annual payroll is more than $1 million. 

Deployment of a Quebec-wide strategy to promote reading 

  • Recognition of literacy as an ongoing, lifelong process starting at a very early age.
  • Support for children with specific difficulties.
  • Accompaniment of parents who are illiterate or poor readers as a necessary condition for increasing children’s chances of success.
  • Adult education, including literacy training, as an essential link in raising reading proficiency.
  • Implementation of measures facilitating access to education to the most disadvantaged communities.
  • Need to mobilize all sectors of Quebec society around this fundamental issue to ensure our collective prosperity.
  • Deployment of a Quebec-wide campaign to raise awareness of the importance of reading.

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