Valuing Literacy: Rhetoric or Reality?


132 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55059-324-2
DDC 302.2'2440971




Reviewed by Susan Kemp

Susan Kemp is an instructor at the Queen’s School of English,
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.


This book examines adult learning in Canada from a number of
perspectives while questioning whether Canada’s commitment to adult
literacy is genuine or if it is merely paying lip service to what is
seen globally as a key element in the development of human capital.
Elements of adult learning and literacy examined include literacy and
government policy in adult learning, literacy from the standpoints of
the individual, the social context of learning, specific case studies of
adults learning in formal settings, the values underlying typical adult
learning, and building a sense of community across diversity and
distance, which in turn will lead to a fully literate country.

Intended for policy-makers, adult educators, and education researchers,
Valuing Literacy is also of interest to the general reader. Because it
draws significantly on the author’s groundbreaking comparative study
of adult literacy programs in Canada and Sweden, the book has
international appeal.

The main questions posed are vital ones. Are Canada’s current
literacy strategies working to increase learning opportunities for
adults? How can significant political will be galvanized in an education
system that is by its very nature fragmented? How best to face the
complex challenges and tensions inherent in public policy related to
adult literacy and learning?

In an examination that is both wide-ranging and succinct, the authors
have done a fine job of encapsulating the challenges and rewards of
adult literacy as Canada moves into a century where not having an
educated, literate population will be a significant barrier to achieving
the nation’s full economic and social potential.


Veeman, Nayda, Angela Ward, and Keith Walker., “Valuing Literacy: Rhetoric or Reality?,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,