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What is numeracy?

Numeracy simply means being able to use mathematics in everyday life.

Mathematics education is about learning mathematics to succeed in school, but its purpose is much broader: to foster numeracy. Numeracy is mathematical literacy, which is defined as follows:

“…an individual’s capacity to formulate, employ, and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts. It includes reasoning mathematically and using mathematical concepts, procedures, facts, and tools to describe, explain, and predict phenomena. It assists individuals to recognize the role that mathematics plays in the world and to make the well-founded judgments and decisions needed by constructive, engaged and reflective citizens” (Council of Ministers of Education (Brochu et al, 2013, 15)).

Numeracy enables us to not only make mental calculations, but to participate fully in the debates and decisions within our modern society. In today’s world, higher numeracy skills are closely linked not only to school achievement but also to success in the job market (Statistics Canada, 2014).

(The above text is an excerpt from forthcoming paper)

Brochu, Pierre, Marie-Anne Deussing, Koffi Houme, and Maria Chuy. 2013. Measuring Up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study. Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

Statistics Canada, 2014. Educational Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective 2014. 81-604-X (December 2014).

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