Literacy in Quebec
In 2003, more than 4 500 Quebec residents aged 16 and over took part in the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS). The results, reported in 2005, are summarized below.
See right column for explanation of IALSS.
What does the Québec literacy survey tell us?
Close to 45% of adult Quebeckers aged 16 and over are at Level 3 or above in three areas (prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy). This is the level of competency required to function comfortably in contemporary society. In contrast, close to one adult in four is at level 1, which denotes very limited skills.
In Québec, there are approximately 509,000 people aged 16 to 65 with very limited literacy skills (Level 1) in prose literacy, document literacy and numeracy. These results highlight the need for maintaining and developing literacy skills throughout life to prevent their loss in later life. The results also show the importance of education in mastering these skills and the connection between literacy and income.
Quebéc Skill Levels (2003)
(Population age 16+)
Source: Bernèche, Francine and Bertrand Perron (2005).
La littératie au Québec en 2003: faits saillants, Enquête internationale sur l'alphabétisation et les compétences des adultes (EIACA), 2003. Québec: Institut de la statistique du Québec.
How does Québec compare?
Bermuda, Norway > QUEBEC = Switzerland > U.S., Italy, Nuevo Leon
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Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta > QUEBEC ~ Ontario
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AGE: 16-25 years scored better than 36+ years.
GENDER: Men > Women (document literacy and numeracy)
Women = Men (prose literacy)
Education level and employment status were significant indicators of literacy.
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Compared with other Canadian provinces,
Québec was the exception with respect to NATIVE LANGUAGE,
because no difference was observed
between those whose native language is
French and those whose native language is English,
when education levels are taken into consideration.
Moreover, even when years of schooling were factored in,
allophones had lower average scores than francophones and anglophones.
IALSS in brief:
This joint study, carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Statistics Canada, was conducted in six countries (Canada, Bermuda, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States) and the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It aimed to measure the literacy levels of adults, i.e. the ability to understand and use printed and written information in everyday life, at home, at work and in the community.
An international report, which presents the data by country, was published in May 2005, followed by two other reports. The Canadian report mainly addresses the differences between the provinces and the territories, as well as the literacy levels of immigrants, Aboriginal people and language groups.
A Québec report, entitled Développer nos compétences en littératie: un défi porteur d’avenir, presents the detailed results for Quebeckers. (See graph at left)