Small Ideas: $10,000


Do you use a computer? A smartphone or tablet? Do you have email? A social media account? A computer can be used to communicate; to find information; to access education and job opportunities; to create and collaborate with others; and to participate in the online community. For many Canadians, using a computer is a challenge.

Did you know, that
• 44% of adults in Canada have low literacy
• 64% of adults in Canada have low or minimal computer skills
(Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2012)

Adults with low literacy face multiple barriers to using computers such as poor reading skills and lack of knowledge about computers. This limits their opportunities to obtain education and employment, and access services and activities online. The internet is required to participate in many activities, and some programs and online services assume knowledge many adults do not have. They are also vulnerable to misinformation, online scams, and other threats. The internet can be a scary place.

P.A.L.S. – Project Adult Literacy Society will provide free Computer Literacy classes for adult learners with low literacy skills to develop computer skills for work and daily living. Students will meet with an instructor for 2 hours a week, in small groups of up to 6 students, or one-on-one depending on need. In the classes, the students learn vocabulary and basic concepts, mouse and keyboard skills, working with programs and files, navigating the internet, and email. Students also develop their skills with office programs and other skills for work and daily life.

“Every time I come to class, I learn something new!” – P.A.L.S. student

Our mission is “Changing Lives through Literacy”. Part of that mission is digital literacy. Without computer skills, adults are excluded from the digital community. When they learn to use computers and access information online, many doors open to them. This includes opportunities for further education. Their confidence increases. Students are finally able to connect with family and friends that are important to them, though email and social media.

“I lost my sense of dread when it comes to computers.” – P.A.L.S. student

Our computer classes provide adults the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge to use computers, to use the internet safely and with confidence, and improve their ability to access and participate in the online world. The computer literacy program helps an underserved population obtain the skills they need to be functional in a digital age.

“I am learning how to use computers because I’m sick of working dead-end jobs.” – P.A.L.S. student

One student gave up smoking in order to save up the money to buy his own laptop. Being able to practice what he learns at P.A.L.S. at home has really increased his confidence and accelerated his learning. Now he asks a lot of questions in class, and helps other students when he can. Another student used to cash his cheque and pay his bills in person. Now his confidence has grown to where he pays his bills online.

P.A.L.S. provides programs in Literacy, Math Literacy, and Literacy for English Language Learners. Adult learners work one-on-one or in small groups with volunteer tutors to develop their reading, writing, math skills, and English language skills. Annually there are approximately 300 adult students in P.A.L.S. programs. Over 70% have as a goal further educational opportunities and employment. The national average for low or minimum computer skills is 64%. Most of our learners are in this category.

Our learners come from all walks of life, and they are able to participate in different workshops and activities with P.A.L.S. They develop friendships and make connections with people from other cultures, and participate in a welcoming and active learning community.

“I was scared that I was being left behind when it came to my computer skills. P.A.L.S. gives me hope.” – P.A.L.S. student

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P.A.L.S. - Project Adult Literacy Society

Location: Edmonton