Bow Valley College celebrates International Literacy Day

The School of Foundational Learning promotes literacy development across its programs.

On Wednesday, September 8, Bow Valley College will participate in marking International Literacy Day, a global awareness event celebrated since 1967.

The day is about recognizing the importance of literacy skills for social and economic outcomes, says School of Foundational Learning associate dean Krista Medhurst. It also draws attention to the fact that almost half of adults in Canada have gaps in their literacy skills that affect their life outcomes.

Krista notes that literacy encompasses a lot more than the ability to read and write. It also includes things like strong critical thinking and analysis skills to evaluate the quality and accuracy of information we receive, and digital literacy.

“Most tasks that require the use of literacy skills, such as reading a newspaper, ordering food from a menu, accessing health information, completing a job application, registering a child for school, or reading for learning are now done using digital technologies,” she says.

Literacy development is at the core of what the School of Foundational Learning offers students.

“Our programming is one of the few places where adults can access programming to support literacy development,” Krista says. “Learners come to us from a wide range of backgrounds. We meet them wherever they are in their learning journey and use adult-centred approaches to literacy.”

Bow Valley College is recognized nationally as a leader in the field of literacy development. The College is a partner institution in the national Skills for Success project, which is revamping Employment and Social Development Canada’s literacy and essential skills framework.

The School’s programs that support literacy development include:

Adult Basic Education

  • This program helps learners develop foundational reading, writing, numeracy, and digital literacy skills needed for further education or employment.
  • Students also learn essential skills that are important for work, learning, and daily life, such as time management, goal setting, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, organization, and basic research.

Indigenous Upgrading

  • This program mirrors the skills developed in Adult Basic Education. Courses are delivered using content and learning approaches that align with Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.
  • The program incorporates Elders and Knowledge Keepers to deliver Indigenous teachings that support holistic learning.

Indigenous Pathways to Employment

  • This new program will start in January 2022. It is a one-year foundational learning program to prepare students for employment or further academic studies.
  • Learners develop essential skills and have the opportunity to apply them in community, work, and formal learning environments.
  • The program promotes academic and employment success, while encouraging mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

The School’s class sizes are small, allowing instructors time to work one-on-one with students. Students also have access to other supports, such as academic aids, writing specialists, and retention officers dedicated to supporting students with life challenges that could affect their learning.

Krista says the School of Foundational Learning has very high success rates in its programs.

“Learners often start their journey with us feeling unsure about themselves or their abilities to succeed,” she says. “We are very committed and passionate about doing all we can to support them, encourage them, and respect them. We recognize that, as adults, they bring a vast range of skills, knowledge, and lived experience with them to the program. We build on these strengths to foster their literacy development in a collaborative and positive learning environment.”

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