Backgrounder on PIAAC results in the North (2013)

Results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) demonstrate the diversity of populations, education levels, languages, and skill levels across Canada’s northern territories, and illustrate the challenges faced there, according to literacy practitioners in that region.

The Canadian results showed that in general, Aboriginal peoples had lower scores than non-Aboriginal Canadians. While three percent of the overall Canadian population is Aboriginal, the highest proportion is in the territories, with 21 percent in the Yukon, 46 percent in the Northwest Territories (NWT), and 81 percent in Nunavut.

Lower rates of high school completion are also related to lower scores in the national results. Between one-third and two-thirds of Aboriginal people in the three northern territories have not completed high school.

The national results also show higher scores for survey participants who completed the survey in their native language. In Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut, 14 percent, 19 percent, and 41 percent of participants respectively completed the survey in a language other than their native tongue.

By international comparison, Canada achieved an average score in literacy and a below average score in numeracy. The results across the territories varied. Compared to national results for both literacy and numeracy, Yukon showed results at or above the average, NWT results were slightly below the national average, and results in Nunavut were well below average.

An initiative of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the PIAAC provides internationally comparable measures of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE).

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APA citation
Northern Alliance for Literacy and Essential Skills. Backgrounder on PIAAC results in the North 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2023 <>
Northern Alliance for Literacy and Essential Skills (2013). Backgrounder on PIAAC results in the North. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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