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NEWS RELEASE · 28th September 2010
Ministry of Education
Premier Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid are challenging all British Columbians to support literacy by buying a newspaper on Sept. 29, National Raise-a-Reader Day.

The Province will match the fund-raising efforts to the 2010 Postmedia Raise-a-Reader Campaign up to $500,000, bringing the government's total campaign contributions to more than $4.2 million since 2004. Premier Campbell and MacDiarmid will join hundreds of volunteers, community leaders and celebrities who will hit the streets in 28 cities across Canada to exchange special editions of local newspapers for donations.

"Strong literary skills are critical for success in society and today's job market," said Premier Campbell. "That's why this campaign is so important, both in B.C. and across the country. The funds raised will help individuals address literacy challenges and learn the skills they need to be successful."

Research shows that more than 40 per cent of adults in Canada have low literacy skills. This marks the seventh consecutive year that the Province has participated in the campaign, which will run in nine B.C. communities: Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Port Alberni, Prince George, Nanaimo and Tofino/Ucluelet.

"Literacy opens doors to success, and reading to our children helps to develop the literacy skills they need to become lifelong learners," said MacDiarmid. "The funds collected through Raise-a-Reader Day go to libraries and community literacy programs around the province that are working to build reading skills for children and adults so they can achieve their best in life."

All proceeds from the newspaper street sales stay in the community in which they were raised. The campaign has provided direct support for B.C. organizations, including public and school libraries and many community literacy programs, including the B.C. Council for Families, the Canucks for Kids fund and Aboriginal organizations.

"British Columbia is the national leader in Raise-a-Reader funding, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, local celebrities and government officials throughout the province who take time out of their busy schedules for this very important cause," said Kevin Bent, president and publisher of The Vancouver Sun. "Raise-a Reader Day and other events during the year are helping people to reach their full potential through building key literacy skills."

Since 2001, the Province has invested more than $1.4 billion in literacy and literacy-related programs and resources to support preschool-aged children, K-12 students and adult learners. These programs and resources include more than 310 StrongStart BC early learning programs throughout the province, almost $18 million to operate the kindergarten-readiness program Ready, Set, Learn and $2.7 million for the LEAP BC resources that encourage literacy, physical activity and healthy eating in preschool-aged children.

Government has also committed $280 million over three years to implement full-day kindergarten for all five-year-olds in B.C. Full-day kindergarten programs have been associated with better social and communication skills, improved reading and math levels, and smoother transitions to Grade 1. Full-day kindergarten will be available for up to 50 per cent of kindergarten students in 2010 and for every eligible five-year-old starting school in 2011.