Barriers to Youth Literacy: Sociological and Canadian Insights
This paper explores the barriers in youth literacy with qualitative interviews with 22 young people and 22 youth service providers from Prince Edward Island, Canada. It then compares these perspectives with a review of literatures on youth literacy. The paper outlines a sociological framework for the study of youth literacy that makes visible the complex cultural nests of youth within which becoming literate is negotiated. Rather than relying solely on individual literacy scores as the only measure of if and to what level young people are literate in contemporary society, the study addressed how barriers are encountered and negotiated. The findings show that barriers exist in multiple contexts in school, community and family and that they are not easily interpreted or predictable. Even high school completion does not guarantee literacy for some youth and both service providers and young people provide similar and disparate perspectives on barriers and possibilities for better support.
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