The fact that you are reading this is a blessing.
Think about it. We live in a world where everything is double sided; language is equal parts spoken and written. We wake up and say “good morning” to our family, pick up our phone and read a text from the loved one who lives halfway across the country, read the news on our phone while we have our morning coffee, and tell the secretary who we’ve come to see when we come in for that job interview. All the while the world swims around us with flowing information. Basic math gives us our correct change at the coffee shop. The journalist critically analyses pieces of a story to give us the best update. We pass computers in every store, every pocket, with worlds hidden inside if we know how to access them.
When our education stops before society’s expected point, we are put at a disadvantage. Jobs paying enough to cover the cost of living become harder to find. Information access is more limited. In a society where digital and literacy skills reign, the person never taught these skills can end up standing on the outskirts. The fact that you are reading this is a blessing because somewhere along the way you were given the tools needed to access this story and understand it.
According to a study by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), in Arkansas alone the adult low literacy rate is 23%. What does that look like for us personally? In Arkansas’ Sebastian County, 1 in 4 adults have low literacy skills. In comparison, if we look at the poverty rate of our county, 23% of people are living in poverty, with close to half of adults with the lowest literacy levels reporting having low incomes.
That’s a lot of statistics; let’s cut to the point. According to proliteracy.org, “Individuals at the lowest literacy and numeracy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and earn lower wages than the national average.” All across America, low literacy levels have been linked with lower incomes and higher chances of poverty. It follows then that when we increase adult literacy skills, we positively affect poverty as well as “K-12 test scores, economic prosperity, crime, and other social issues in Sebastian County”, as the PIAAC also reports. Fighting against low literacy skills is a way to fix the basis of the problems many of us or our neighbors face.
The Literacy Council of Western Arkansas is an organization doing just that. It works to aid students seeking to raise their literacy levels. Students have free access to tutoring in Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, and Citizenship classes. By providing a place for adult students to gain these literacy skills, they are actively playing a role in increasing the quality of life of the individuals around us amidst an education-oriented society moving at a furious rate toward new technology and discoveries.
We’re all in this together, and we all deserve the opportunities to make the most out of ourselves in this society. Support your local Literacy Council, refer people you know are struggling, or accept help where you need it. The world we live in can be a beautiful place, but there are times when we need help to access it. Literacy opens up worlds. Let’s aim to share them; there’s more than enough room.
For more information on the statistics given above, visit:
Literacy Council of Western Arkansas
Blog Post #1
August 28, 2020