Yellowknife Literacy Outreach Centre programs help students to learn about themselves and their place in society, says coordinator Xiaoyi Yan.
The centre is a partnership between Aurora College and Inclusion NWT to provide literacy programs for Northerners since 1997.
“The mission of our programs are to help students to learn (about) worlds from words,” said Yan. “It’s not just simply literacy, learning letters and learning how to read, but also learning about themselves and learning how they can fit better into their society.”
She works closely with her colleague, Kristina Carlson, who teaches adult literacy class in the mornings and has been working in education for eight years.
In class, participants do a mixture of class-wide and individual activities, tailored towards each student’s specific goals and needs, said Carlson.
“A lot of what we try to do is build confidence and empower students to be able to participate fully in the world around them, and do so by building their literacy skills, whether that’s math, reading, writing, computer skills, and other life skills,” she said.
“I second that,” said Yan. “I believe literacy is our essential right. Everyone should have literacy skills. For people who don’t because of various reasons, we would like to fill that gap. I see my job not only as an instructor, but also as someone who can build a community so that more people (become) aware of our literacy issues in the NWT.”
Carlson said she keeps the class relevant to things that are happening around the community and the rest of the world.
“We cycle through units every one to three weeks, (focusing on) things that are happening around us in the world — things that the students have requested to learn more about.”
When asked about the challenges that students face, Carlson replied that the requirements for entry is low, and that they welcome a diverse crowd.
“We can (teach) someone who is a non-reader and just starting from their alphabet, up to anyone who is fairly independent,” she said. “Once they reach a certain level of independence, we would maybe encourage them to go on to other programs at a higher level if that’s what their goals are.”
Their programs are free, available to people of all ages, and it’s accessible whether or not one has a disability.
“Whether you’re 19 or 70 years old, you’re welcome in the class,” said Carlson.
If anyone is interested in enrolling in one of the programs offered by the literacy outreach centre, you can contact them through their Facebook page.
“For anyone who needs literacy services, we would like to reach them,” said Yan.
The centre is located on the 11th floor of the Precambrian Building on 52 Street, adjacent to Capitol Theatre.
The adult literacy class takes place from Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. to noon from September to June. This class is currently full but people interested should contact the centre to join the waiting list.
The computer basics class takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., October to May. The office skills basics class is within the same time frame but on Tuesdays. Both classes have a capacity of 10 people. Yan said attendance is fluctuating and both classes currently have two spots available.
The centre also provides one-on-one tutoring for reading, writing, math, computer skills, and so on. The service is available from September to June for a maximum of two hours per week for each person. Tutoring is available for six individuals at any given time. There are presently only four registered but two other interested individuals are being processed.
Applications for the various programs offered by the centre are accepted throughout the year.
The centre is funded by Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), the NWT Literacy Council and Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine.