Home > Uncategorized > Literacy, what does it mean to you?

Literacy, what does it mean to you?

My sorority’s national philanthropy deals with childhood literacy. After having completed the new member program, I have learned a good deal about literacy and the impact it (or lack of it) can have on a child’s life. I found some interesting facts that I thought I would share. Though these do not relate directly to science, I figured they would be relevant considering we all enjoy the gift of literacy and utilize it everyday in our UW classes.

  • Literacy is the ability to read, write, compute, and use technology at a level that enables an individual to reach his or her full potential as a parent, employee, and community member.
  • There are 774 million adults around the world who are illiterate in their native languages.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women.
  • In the U.S., 30 million people over age 16 — 14 percent of the country’s adult population — don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level or fill out a job application.
  • The United States ranks fifth on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • Adult low literacy can be connected to almost every socio-economic issue in the United States:
    • More than 60 percent of all state and federal corrections inmates can barely read and write.
    • Low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $238 billion each year in the U.S. — 7 to 17 percent of all annual personal health care spending.
    • Low literacy’s effects cost the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
  • Globally, illiteracy can be linked to:
    • Gender abuse, including female infanticide and female circumcision
    • Extreme poverty (earning less than $1/day)
    • High infant mortality and the spread of HIV/Aids, malaria, and other preventable infectious disease
With these bits of information in mind, what does literacy mean to you? How does it impact your life? Have you ever encountered an experience that has made you grateful for your ability to read?
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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 7, 2011 at 4:36 am

    I work at a homeless shelter and part of what I do is working in the computer lab, helping them with technology but more often helping with spelling. I am surprised by the questions I am asked, ranging from how do I punctuate this? how do I format a resume? to how so I spell “ham”? I get questions that seem like common sense to me, but is not to them. We have spent our whole lives in school, but there are many people in the world that do not have that advantage, even here in DC there are a lot of people without that option.
    Worldwide education is not the same as it is in the United States, many do not get past elementary school. Those that get into secondary school often leave the country to continue studies or get a better job. Public school is also not as easily acceptable in many other countries. I guess I am saying, lucky us for being taught us how to read and write.

  2. November 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Hmm… here in the US, we have high literacy rates but we practice male circumcision. Its just as barbaric as female circumcision if you ask me.

  3. November 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    This weekend, my roommate Nadia and I were at Mehran, sipping on some chai, watching Aladdin. We got into a very interesting conversation about what would we do if we had a genie. We kept trying to think of wishes we would make… and every wish that we thought of, we contemplated that in the long run it would turn out bad. However we both agreed that the power of knowledge, and world literacy would probably be the only wish that would do any good.
    Education is so powerful. If everyone was literate, we could make some great changes that could truly implement the world. Many people do not realize that world our population is just increasing. Resources are depleating, there are islands and islands of trash out in the ocean, we’re going through global warming, yet we keep manufacturing more biohazardous waste. All of these problems, correlate in some way with litteracy. It was researched that if more women were literate and educated, they would not produce as many childeren. The reason being, is that they would want to pursue somethign with their lives before just having many childeren. In some countries women, aren’t allowd to be literate because those that implemented this rule, know the power of litteracy. These are just some thought. Literacy is powerful. Education is powerful. If more and more people in the world took time to become educated on the various growing problems we have today regarding the world and its resources, there would be a good chance that we would have a better world. If we don’t do anything about it, it’ll only get worse.

  4. November 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Literacy is a topic I had never thought about much before high school. I took for granted that I had the opportunity to go to great schools and always knew that I wanted to and was expected to go to college. So it shocked me once I began researching other countries for projects in high school that revealed the poor literacy rates around the world. It shocked me even more when I learned that the US wasn’t at the top of the list. I know that I have been extremely lucky to have had the education that I have and I couldn’t imagine my life were I not able to read or write. Getting anywhere in today’s society depends upon those two vital things. I hope this is one cause that gets more attention and is worked upon, as I think it definitely has the possibility to be solved if there was a national or global effort to educate people.

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