Halifax, Nova Scotia

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Halifax Central Library | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

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Understanding Literacy

While literacy is a right for everyone, many struggle throughout life without basic reading, writing, speaking, listening and numeracy skills. This journey does not have to be undertaken alone. There are many organizations in and around Halifax to aid people in their pursuit of a literate life.

At first glance ‘literacy’ would seem to be a term that everyone understands. Literacy as a concept is complex and interpreted and defined in many different ways. For most of its history in English, the word ‘literate’ meant to be ‘familiar with literature’ or, more generally, ‘well educated, learned.’ In the late 19th Century literate also came to refer to the abilities to read and write text. Today literacy means so much more than the ability to read and write. In our modern technology-rich society the definition of literacy is much broader and now includes nine essential skills: reading text, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, computer use, critical thinking skills and continuous learning.


United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute, and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and the broader.”


Literacy is important to an individual’s everyday life and it is the pathway out of poverty. Word on the Street Halifax is passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of literacy.