In the United States, an estimated 30 million people over the age of 16 read no better than the average elementary school child. Worldwide, nearly 800 million adults are illiterate in their native languages; two-thirds of them are women. Yet the ability to read and write is the basis for all other education; literacy is necessary for an individual to understand information that is out of context, whether written or verbal. Literacy is essential if we are to eradicate poverty at home and abroad, improve infant mortality rates, and create sustainable development. Without literacy skills—the abilities to read, to write, to do math, to solve problems, and to access and use technology—today’s children will struggle to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as parents, community members, and employees.
ADULTS NEED TO FOSTER STRONG LITERACY SKILLS SO OUR KEIKI…
…become good employees. In the U.S. — The employees most in demand in the U.S. have at least a two-year college degree. Workers must be able to read safety regulations and warnings so they and their co-workers can stay safe on the job. And working in a team means that employees must be able to communicate clearly with one another.
…keep themselves and their `ohana healthy. In the U.S. —Understanding a doctor’s orders, calculating how much medicine to take, reading disease-prevention pamphlets—all are ways adults can keep themselves and their families healthy. But millions of adults lack these essential “health literacy” skills, which adds an estimated $230 billion a year to the cost of health care in the U.S.
…become active in their communities. In the U.S. — Political campaigns in the U.S. often stress the need for “informed voters.” But how can an individual be well informed if he or she cannot access written campaign literature or read newspaper coverage of the issues and candidates? The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, showed that low literate adults are less likely to vote than strong readers, but become more active in their communities as their reading and writing skills improve.
…become advocates for themselves and avoid human rights abuse. In the U.S. — People must be aware of their rights in order to assert them. Literacy gives people access to that information. Literacy plays a significant role in reducing gender inequality.
…avoid crime. In the U.S. — There is a clear correlation between adult illiteracy and crime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report (2003), 75 percent of America’s state prison inmates, almost 59 percent of federal inmates, and 69 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school.
Source: Pro Literacy America