In the digital age of the twenty-first century, individuals consume and distribute enormous volumes of information through the use of written words. This information can be easily stored and shared across a wide variety of mediums which bring knowledge and awareness of issues occurring throughout our world. The significance of this information, found in the written language, heightens the importance of adult literacy, making it especially critical at this time in history.
Regardless of how readily available this information is, the numbers of those throughout the world who are illiterate continues to remain at high levels despite attempts to close the literacy gap. According to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute of Literacy in 2013, at least 14% (32 million) adults in the United States are unable to read, while internationally the numbers are soaring into the triple digits with upwards of 774 million individuals who are unable to read or write. What may be even more discouraging is that roughly 66% of those that are illiterate outside of the United States are female (“Illiteracy Statistics”). The high rates of illiterate women have become a significant concern not only outside of the United States, but within the country as well. As women are traditionally the primary caregivers of children, when a woman is without adequate literacy skills she is unable to teach those critical skills to the next generation which widens the literacy gap even further.
Illiteracy has been consistently linked to issues such as poverty, low economic status, gender inequality, and child mortality (“Literacy for All”). The flip-side of illiteracy is that of literacy, which has been shown to lead to increased voting patterns, higher economic status, lower dependency on government assistance, higher rates of employment and wage earnings, and higher levels of education which leads to enhanced critical thinking and overall development (U.S. Dept. of Education).
September 8th of each year is recognized as International Literacy Day.
“Illiteracy Statistics.” Statistic Brain RSS. N.p., 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 07 Sept. 2014.
“Literacy for All.” UNESCO. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.
United States of America. U.S. Department of Education. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Findings of the National Adult Literacy Survey. By Irwin S. Kirsch, Ann Jungeblut, Lynn Jenkins, and Andrew Colstad. National Center for Education Statistics, Apr. 2002. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.