Importance of Literacy
“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.”
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Why literacy is important.
Thousands of adults in our community hide behind the dark veil of illiteracy. Other thousands cannot speak the English language. Activities the rest of us take for granted – filling out a job application, understanding health care instructions, grocery shopping, helping with children’s homework, reading a sign or a map – present daily struggles.
Nearly one-fifth of Buncombe County’s adult population never graduated from high school – earning 42 percent less than graduates and accounting for millions in lost federal, state, and local revenues.
In the United States, an estimated 30 million people over the age of 16 read no better than the average elementary school child. Yet the ability to read and write is the basis for all other education.
There is a direct link between literacy skills and public assistance, teen mothers, children living in poverty, and prison populations. Literacy is our greatest weapon in the ongoing struggle between success and failure – between economic vitality and prosperity for all our residents.
Without literacy, today’s adults struggle to take part in the world around them and reach their full potential as individuals, parents, employees, and citizens.
(The following excerpt is from the ProLiteracy website, October 2009.)
…you can’t read the label on your child’s medicine bottle.
…you can’t count your change in the checkout line.
…you can’t fill out an application for a job.
… or the paperwork for a loan …or food …or housing.
…the boss hands you a new instruction manual.
…you need to get directions or read a map.
…the teacher sends home an important note about your child.