London

Ontario pours $185-million into adult literacy

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews announced Friday a $185-million investment into adult education programs, set to help about 80,000 students over the next four years.

Several organizations across the province are aiming to equip mature students with transferable skills.

Heather Bressette-Hammond, is learner at the Nokee Kwe Native Literacy Centre, which aims to empower indigenous communities through cultural education. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Heather Bressette-Hammond wasn't able to speak her mother tongue up until two years ago.

"Both my parents were in residential schools and they were denied to speak their own language," she said. "I grew up in a home where we were not allowed to speak our own language and that was really sad."

The First Nation's woman is learning Ojibwa at the Nokee Kwe Native Literacy Centre, which aims to empower indigenous communities through cultural education.

She's enrolled in an Oneida language course next week.

The centre is one of many local and provincial adult literacy organizations, aiming to equip mature students with transferrable skills.

Provincial funding 

Gary Porter is now enjoying reading trilogies after going back to get his high school diploma 15 years ago through Laubach Literacy Ontario.

Last year, Ontario funded more than 40,000 students into adult programs.

This year, the number has doubled.

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews announced Friday a $185-million investment into adult education programs, set to help about 80,000 students over the next four years.

The funding is part of Ontario's Lifelong Learning and Skills plan, hoping to train adults into long-term employment. About 15 per cent of adults across the province struggle with reading books and working a computer.

Money will be allotted to several groups in London including Literacy Link South Central, Laubach Literacy Ontario and Ontario Native Literacy Coalition.

Gary Porter never finished high school. He got right into the family business after he was married at 16.

"Education is so important and I didn't realize it," said Porter who couldn't spell out his customers' information.

"It's something that you hide so you have to manoeuvre through life without those skills ... I feel like a whole new person now."

He's now enjoying reading trilogies after going back to get his diploma 15 years ago through Laubach Literacy Ontario.

For Heather, her journey has just begun as she delves into her digital learning curve.

"You are never too old … step up, take that first step, go forward and enjoy."

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