Learning for Life: Charting the Future through Literacy and Numeracy

Learning for Life
Charting the Future through Literacy and Numeracy

Frequently Asked Questions

Why a provincial summit?

Manitoba is committed to becoming the “most improved” province in literacy and numeracy. To achieve this goal, we need a provincial literacy and numeracy strategy. Increasing student achievement in these areas is a complex challenge that cannot be addressed by schools alone. The process to co-develop a long-term, comprehensive and sustainable plan must include shared ownership by all Manitobans who contribute to and benefit from high levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy.

Literacy and numeracy are key foundations of learning. Data from provincial and external sources indicate a need for improvement and have identified gaps in achievement that must be addressed to ensure success for all Manitobans.

The provincial strategy is about creating a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy for all Manitobans. Today, as the world around us is changing, the basics are evolving and encompass more than the traditional “letters and numbers.” We need a strategy that prepares Manitobans for the complexities of modern society, which requires high levels of literacy and numeracy as well as additional skills, abilities and competencies for success now and in the future.

Who participated?

Over 700 Manitobans from northern, rural and urban settings engaged in the three-day summit. Registered participants self-identified in the following stakeholder groups: Early Childhood Learning, K-12 Education, Adult Education, Community Organizations, Post-Secondary, Government, Community Members, Business Community, Parents/Caregiver/Family.

When did it take place?

Summit was held January 9 – 11th, 2018 at RBC Convention Centre.

What was the process?

Participants were invited to engage in a collaborative process to share their perspectives and ideas on topics that they identified as critical to impacting and improving achievement in literacy and numeracy for all Manitobans.

For the first time in Manitoba, the summit used Open Space Technology, an innovative, evidence-based, whole-systems approach to invite participants to share their voices. This method has been successfully used in multiple countries with multiple stakeholders to co-develop and co-implement complex, ambitious action plans (e.g. business, economic, community strategies).

To develop a shared understanding, participants engaged in a historical scan over the past 30 years. Timelines were created to identify key events and trends, at the local, provincial and national/global levels, that have contributed to the current state of literacy and numeracy in Manitoba.

The agenda of the summit was co-created by participants on issues they identified as critical to impacting and addressing high achievement in literacy and numeracy.

Participants facilitated and documented 100 ninety-minute open discussions where parents, Elders, business, educators, and community shareholders freely shared their diverse perspectives and ideas.

Student voice was celebrated and heard through a variety of literacies including literacy and numeracy exemplars, the visual arts as well as musical and theatrical performances.

A departmental working group has been established to coordinate the compilation of the summit participant contributions. Software for qualitative data analysis has been used to analyze all written materials, as generated by the participants, to determine the main themes that emerged from the discussions.

These themes will form the foundation of the provincial literacy and numeracy strategy, reflecting shared ownership of all stakeholders.

The department, following the release of the provincial literacy and numeracy strategy in spring 2018, will coordinate further regional consultations with representation from regional stakeholders.

Call to Action

What is literacy and numeracy?
  • Literacy and numeracy are fundamental to all learning. They enable us to understand, interpret, create, communicate, and interact with ideas, others, and the world around us.
  • Literacy and numeracy involve more than reading and writing words, or adding and subtracting numbers. They include the capacity to understand and use language, signs (cues and gestures), numbers, symbols and images for learning, communicating and creating.  
  • Literacy and numeracy are embedded across all subject areas, and to learning and life outside of school. Literacy and numeracy are among the essential skills adults need to succeed in the workplace and to be active citizens. They are lifelong endeavours that evolve as we live, learn, work and grow.
How is Manitoba doing?
  • Results from pan-Canadian and international assessments of academic achievement show Manitoba lagging behind high-performing provinces, and our provincial student assessment data has shown limited improvement in recent years.
  • Achievement gaps for some children start before they enter Kindergarten, and remain as they move through school. We know that factors such as poverty, geography and trauma can contribute to these achievement gaps. These same factors are also related to negative outcomes in terms of physical and mental health, family and community well-being, and labour force participation.
Why is the issue of literacy and numeracy important for Manitoba?
  • Some learners, for a variety of reasons, leave high school without the necessary literacy and numeracy skills to access or be successful in post-secondary education and work.
  • The educational outcomes for Indigenous children show a significant gap compared with non-Indigenous children. Our systems need to better support Indigenous children and communities, as a part of achieving reconciliation.
  • The world is changing, and in order for Manitoba to succeed, we need to change too. Literacy and numeracy are fundamental to the growth and health of Manitoba’s economy, cultures and social fabric.
What are the intended outcomes?
  • Manitoba needs to close the achievement gaps for children during the critical early years. This also means supporting those who experience barriers to learning at all ages and abilities.
  • In order to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy, Manitoba also needs to raise the bar for literacy and numeracy.
  • The Summit will guide participants through a co-creation process, providing Manitobans with the opportunity to help develop a provincial literacy and numeracy strategy.


Please direct email inquiries to LSTU@gov.mb.ca