Monday, May 10, 2010

The Surprising Facts about Illiteracy

Have you ever met and spent time with people who are illiterate? Truthfully, I had not, until my recent trip to Morocco, where I learned that 45 percent of the population cannot read or write. So it was inevitable, I believed, that my wife and I would have some exchange with someone in this predicament, and, indeed, we did – a wonderful 23-year old guy who has spent his life in the Sahara Desert, and had never been to the nearby big cities of Fez or Marrakesh. Until I met Karin, I had never heard anyone say, “I have never gone to school.”

When I got home, I did a little research on illiteracy and was astonished by what I found. Nearly one out of two Moroccans may be illiterate — but so is nearly one out of every four Americans!

In fact, the U.S. ranks 19th worldwide in terms of its literacy rate — that’s behind countries like Georgia, Cuba, Estonia and Latvia, according to the United Nations Development Program. And research has found that about half of U.S. adults read so poorly that they’re stuck in subsistence jobs that keep them trapped in poverty.

Education is a cost-efficient strategy with a big payoff for everyone involved … whether they live in great global capitals or tiny villages in developing countries. Literate people can be trained less expensively than illiterate people. They generally earn more and enjoy better health and employment prospects.

It’s a powerful reason to fight illiteracy wherever in the world it occurs.

Technorati Tags: illiteracy, Education, public relations, Makovsky


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