National Education Month: READ Saskatoon
November 23, 2020
November is National Education Month and Epic Alliance Inc. wanted to highlight two of the great organizations in Saskatoon that enable education...at any and every age! The first organization that we met with is READ Saskatoon. We interviewed Michelle Busa, the Donor Relations and Fund Development Manager at READ Saskatoon, about the various programs that are offered at READ, who the programs are for, and how to access them.
One of the things that Michelle shared is that one third of Saskatchewan’s population has low literacy skills. That impacts a range of demographics, including a variety of ages, Canadian born and immigrants, and a variety of economic backgrounds.
What is low literacy?
Low literacy is not the same as illiteracy, which is the inability to read and write. Low literacy means that individuals can do things like read and write and navigate through paperwork to some extent, but require more time. It can range from re-reading forms and paperwork to not being able to use a smartphone or computer with confidence to having issues with spelling. It can also include not being able to create resumes or cover letters, write at a level required for work, or being able to read children’s books but not being able to read above a higher level. It also includes financial literacy. November is also Financial Literacy Month and READ offers a Financial Literacy program that helps individuals with Asset Building, Banking, Budgeting, and starting to save!
Who does it affect and how does it affect them?
Low literacy affects a range of people and populations. Michelle mentioned that READ has worked with parents, grandparents, business owners, professionals, Canadian born individuals and immigrants who have all struggled with low literacy. It can be a result of struggling through school, a learning disability, home situations that couldn’t support learning, learning English as a second language, and a host of other reasons. The effects of low literacy can include everything from not being able to fill out job applications, being unable to navigate banking systems or knowing how to use a computer or email program, to not being able to read as a family or helping children or grandchildren with homework. It also affects the community at large because it can bar people from accessing jobs or to turning to money marts in order to make ends meet, all of which can create cycles that can be hard to get out of.
How can we combat low literacy?
READ Saskatoon helps combat low literacy by offering a range of programs and catering their services to the needs of the people who use their services. That includes their Financial Literacy program, a Family Literacy program, Children’s Literacy programming, and an Adult Literacy program. The programming tries to address specific needs that each learner has, whether it be figuring out how to use their email, learning how to write a letter for work, learning how to help their kids with their homework, or improving their reading skills. There is a responsibility on the readers themselves to work outside of the sessions to keep up and practice. Recommending READ’s programming among the Saskatoon community can help make sure that individuals receive the support they need, but also removing the stigma of low literacy and helping individuals who may be struggling by offering help, patience, and support are also critical to making sure that we improve Saskatchewan’s low literacy.
How can I help or get involved?
There are several ways to get involved with READ Saskatoon. One way is by becoming a monthly donor or making a one time donation. Book donations are also accepted, though donating money means that READ can purchase specific books for their readers. READ also depends on volunteers to help make their programming possible. You can sign up to become a volunteer here.
To watch the interview with Michelle, head here to our YouTube channel. If you’d like to learn more about READ and some of their fun and creative learning opportunities, you can check them out here! READ Saskatoon also has a fun, family friendly, and engaging READ Bingo Card available, which, if completed by Dec. 16, can be entered to win prizes! Find that here.