The Cedar Glen Declaration is a statement on public policy formulated by national organizations concerned about illiteracy in Canada. On December 5,1986 and January 23,1987, representatives of organizations met as a committee of equal partners to cooperate in the production of this document.

The organizations responsible for this statement are deeply concerned that one in five Canadians cannot read and write well enough to effectively participate in today's society. We recognize that illiteracy is inter-related with poverty, unemployment and decreased national productivity. We further recognize that illiteracy is an inter-generational problem: children are far more likely to be literate if their parents are literate.

Everyone should have the opportunity to participate fully in society as parents, workers and citizens. We, therefore, believe that literacy must be recognized as a priority issue in Canada. While the recommendations contained in this document are by no means exhaustive, they represent an approach to policy which is both educationally sound and respectful of the needs of a diverse population struggling for the fundamental right to learn.

The literacy movement in Canada represents a considerable depth and breadth of knowledge and experience. It is, therefore, essential that literacy practitioners and program participants be involved in the development and implementation of public policy.

It should also be recognized that, without adequate support for the existing literacy programs and new program initiatives, even the most well-intentioned policy statements will be ineffective. Governments at all levels should recognize their responsibility to undertake affirmative action on behalf of illiterate adults.

We believe that it is of the utmost importance that the federal and provincial levels of government create a policy which recognizes the need for widely based adult education programs and provides the means of supporting them.


Literacy is essential for full and successful participation in Canadian society. We believe that equity of access to basic education constitutes a fundamental human right. We believe that this right, the right to learn, should be deemed a priority in public policy at all levels.

We therefore recommend that:

Basic education (grades 1-12 or the equivalent) be made available to all Canadians without discrimination, including on the basis of age, sex, and place of residence. Any upper age limit in the definition of students where such exists in laws governing the provision of basic education be eliminated.

There be equality in provision of adult basic education relative to provisions for children and youth, thus bringing all laws into conformity with the equality section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Canada, as a whole, is responsible for meeting the learning needs of all its citizens. Both levels of government should recognize that barriers exist which preclude full access to and participation in adult literacy programs.

In order to meet the literacy needs of Canadian adults, policy is needed as is the commitment of financial support to provide for the implementation of policy. Each level of government should develop and implement policy in its areas of jurisdiction.

The development and implementation of policy at all levels should be the result of a process of consultation with organizations, practitioners, and learners in the literacy field. To be effective, literacy policy should be implemented to include the following elements:


Individuals requiring literacy programs have diverse needs. Programs should be learner- centred to accommodate the diverse needs of these individuals. All adult learners have a right to a voice in decisions regarding the content of their learning. Educationally disadvantaged adults, in particular, need this voice in order to become informed of their rights, their individual and group strengths, and avenues for their participation.

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