Filling the glass?


In Negotiating gaps: adult educators between policy and practices, Tannis Atkinson says,
Around the world, adult educators need to find creative new ways to highlight global inequities in ‘economies of literacy’ (Blommaert, 2008) and to unsettle long-standing patterns of dominance and exclusion. We can start by asking about the origin of our belief that literacy will lead to social inclusion, and that government policies will address inequities. We can also ask how we ourselves benefit from social relations that privilege specific culture- and class-specific literacy practices. But perhaps we also need to ask how we can work towards a world in which it is much more common to ask whose literacies are de-valued, and why.
In Canada, we are looking for partners that will support us in this work. I posted about the Declaration and questions for political parties in September.This network is asking the political parties running in the federal election how they see government policies addressing inequal access to education and their vision of how adult education promotes social inclusion.

The literacy network has received two replies so far.

The first one arrived on September 24 and was from the NDP. They responded in broad terms about the importance of literacy and how they would ensure that money committed to literacy would actually be spent on literacy - no more lapsed funds.
Literacy and basic skills are central to the enjoyment of health, job opportunities and community participation. ...
An NDP government will make adult literacy and skills development a priority, ensuring that the funds devoted to these important programs get spent and working with stakeholders to ensure that Canadians have access the to the skills training and literacy programs they need. ...

Under the guise of directing money to where it was needed most, the Conservatives cut funding for literacy organizations. They argued that resources were being wasted on administration and research, but the reality is that the Conservatives simply allowed a large portion of literacy funding to lapse instead of redirecting it towards new projects.
On the questions of federal leadership and supporting research and professional development, the NDP pledged to return to a model of community development and asset building.They showed that they were familiar with the Conservative arguments for cutting funds and pledged to reverse the cuts.
The NDP recognizes that effective literacy programs require a wide range of activities, including research, information sharing, innovating, and scaling up best practices. We also recognize the reality that organizations have overhead costs, and that without funding for administration many essential tasks can simply not be done. That’s why an NDP government will reverse the Conservatives short-sighted approach to funding and will work with the sector to ensure that core funding is available for the full range of programs necessary. 
On September 30 the Liberals replied. They see literacy as a route to jobs and global competitiveness. They do not mention the role of literacy in community and social participation.
It is critical that Canadians have the opportunity to improve their skills and work credentials, to help meet the needs of a modern economy and to ensure that Canadians have good-paying, middle class jobs.

Lifelong learning and literacy must become a Canada-wide priority to both enhance our standard of living and economic competitiveness in the years ahead because these skills are vital to ensuring employability and success in today’s society.
Today, there are too many hard-working Canadians who are looking to upgrade their skills and find better jobs, but do not have access to the training that they require. A Liberal government will make it easier for adults to get the additional skills they need to acquire and retain good jobs throughout their working lives.
They speak about restoring and increasing funding to the Labour Market Agreements that was cut when the Conservative government implemented the Canada Jobs Grant program.
A $200 million annual increase in funding to be delivered by the provinces and territories and focused on training for workers who are not currently eligible for federal training investment. This will undo Stephen Harper’s cuts in 2014 to the Labour Market Agreements, which help Canadians outside the labour market get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find a decent job.
All the other funding they mention is also tied to employment outcomes.

It is difficult for this party to speak about federal leadership and supporting research as they are the party that closed the National Literacy Secretariat and it seems their thinking hasn't changed since the last time they were in power. They even mention their old cost-cutting justification - accountability - in their response.

Liberals understand the fundamental role that the not-for-profit sector plays in both policy development and program delivery for Canadians. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to renewing the federal government’s partnership with civil society.

A Liberal government will work in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, including adult education providers and researchers, to explore more effective ways to provide funding for the important work you do. Our party understands that we must improve funding delivery mechanisms to support the not-for-profit sector to achieve accountability, while at the same time providing adequate, predictable, and stable funding.

The federal Liberals and the Ontario Liberals seem to be on the same page when it comes to literacy - that publicly-funded literacy is for those who are focused on employment outcomes and that while the sector is welcome to pursue research and professional development, we are to do that on our own dime.

The parties weren't asked about exclusion of certain literacies from the dominant discourse but they were asked about the linguistic rights of francophones.

The NDP responded with a commitment to linguistic rights and talking about the abolition of the Court Challenges Program.
The NDP is fully committed to complying with the Constitution and to protecting the linguistic rights of Canadians. For Canadians to be able to exercise those rights, the federal government needs to ensure that the proper resources are there. The NDP has called on the government to increase its support for the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages which includes funds for access to education in the minority language.

The NDP was strongly opposed to the abolition of the Court Challenge Program. This program provided essential resources to ensure the protection and enhancement of minority language rights. We also voiced our concerns with the Languages Rights Support Program, as it seems to respond only in part to communities’ needs.
The Liberals made a similar commitment to linguistic rights and talked about cuts to the CBC.
Canada was built on the idea that Francophones should be able to feel at home in this country, regardless of the province in which they live. It is largely due to our duality that we have become a society in which people from diverse cultures, origins, and religions can come, live, and feel at home. ...

Further, a Liberal government will look for opportunities to promote French language and culture, both in Qu├ębec and also for Francophones and francophone communities across the country. CBC/Radio-Canada is also a vital national institution that brings Canadians together, promotes and defends our two official languages, and supports our shared culture. Our public broadcaster reflects minority communities and is a vital voice throughout the country. 
They were also asked about using a literacy lens for cross-sectoral policy-making.

The NDP focused their response on working with Indigenous peoples.
Certain populations struggle more with literacy and basic skills than others. Literacy levels and training are certainly of great concern among Indigenous peoples, for instance. That’s why an NDP government supports policies to increase literacy and basic skills among Indigenous peoples, including support for education and ASETS. We will also ensure that literacy and essential skills are considered in other sectors as required.
The Liberals spoke about working across juridictions rather than across sectors and included Indigenous governments as one of those jurisdictions.
A Liberal government will work in partnership with provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments to integrate literacy and essential skills development into sectoral policies, where relevant.
So what is it to be literacy people? How should we try to fill our glass on election day?