SJC Month 8: A Look at Illiteracy and Education

By August 29, 2010 culture, language No Comments

With just a few days remaining in Social Justice Challenge Month 8, I’m finally posting a little something. Odd it’s taken me this long, considering the focus for this month is literacy and education. (yippee!)

Reading and learning seem to be embedded in my personality or DNA or something. Fun for me is a 24-hour read-a-thon or perusing university graduate programs. (Yet, I still have people who are willing to hang out with me. Amazing, eh?)

Because I find such joy in reading and learning, I want others to have it too.

Literacy and education work as a hinge on the door to opportunity and health. As literacy rates improve, education levels increase, and the door to opportunity and health creaks open inch by inch.

Here are some facts and figures1 that speak to the power of literacy and education:

Worldwide Facts

  • The per capita income in countries with a literacy rate less than 55% averages about $600.
  • Teaching mothers to read can lead to a decrease in infant mortality of up to 50%.
  • 98% of all nonliterates live in developing countries.
  • 52% of all nonliterates live in India and China.
  • Africa as a continent has a literacy rate of less than 60%.
  • In all developing countries, the percentage of children aged 6–11 not attending school is 15%. In the least developed countries, it is 45%.

U.S. Facts

  • Annual health-care costs in the U.S. are four times higher for individuals with low literacy skills than they are for individuals with high level literacy skills.
  • Women in the U.S. who have little formal education are more likely than educated women to be in abusive relationships.
  • One-half of all adults in U.S. federal and state correctional institutions cannot read or write at all; 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems.
  • Male and female students with low academic achievement are twice as likely to become parents by their senior year of high school compared to students with high academic achievement.
  • For juveniles involved in quality reading instruction programs while in prison, recidivism [decreased] by 20% or more.

There is a correlation between the ability to read and levels of income, mortality rates, physical health, relational stability, pregnancy rates, and incarceration rates. Basically, literacy and education help people obtain more stable, fruitful, and healthful lives.

Do you know someone who is helping to improve literacy and education in underdeveloped areas? I’d love to hear some encouraging examples. Let’s exchange some ideas of how to foster a love for reading and learning among those who need some extra help.

And stop back on the 31st for one last SJC Month 8 post in which I plan to feature organizations that are making a difference by giving the gift of education and reading.

Join the SJC! Let’s read, act, and change together in 2010. Visit SJC HQ for details.

1. ProLiteracy Worldwide: Facts about Literacy,

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