The Impact of Literacy
Basic Facts about Literacy
- 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 759 million adults–approximately 16 percent of the world’s population–who have only basic or below basic literacy levels in their native languages.
- Two-thirds of the world’s lowest literate adults are women.
- In the U.S., 63 million adults — 29 percent of the country’s adult population —over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level.
- An additional 30 million — 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower.
- Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy rates in the United States live in poverty.
- 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 65 percent of all state and federal corrections inmates can be classified as low literate.
- Low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $236 billion each year in the U.S.
- Seventy-seven million Americans have only a 2-in-3 chance of correctly reading an over-the-counter drug label or understanding their child’s vaccination chart.
- 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 diseases.
|The Impact of Literacy
Why Literacy is Important
In the United States, an estimated 30 million people over the age of 16 read no better than the average elementary school child. Worldwide, nearly 800 million adults are illiterate in their native languages; two-thirds of them are women. Yet the ability to read and write is the basis for all other education; literacy is necessary for an individual to understand information that is out of context, whether written or verbal. Literacy is essential if we are to eradicate poverty at home and abroad, improve infant mortality rates, address gender inequality, and create sustainable development. Without literacy skills—the abilities to read, to write, to do math, to solve problems, and to access and use technology—today’s adults will struggle to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as parents, community members, and employees.
ADULTS NEED STRONG LITERACY SKILLS
…to raise children who have strong literacy skills.
Internationally— Educated mothers in developing countries are more likely to send their children to school than non-educated mothers.
…to be good employees.
Internationally— In developing countries, math literacy skills help people taking part in micro enterprise programs to manage their businesses.
…to keep themselves and their families healthy.
Internationally —Teaching adults in developing countries to read as they are shown how they can prevent disease has helped reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, trained community first aid practitioners, and led to more sanitary drinking water supplies.
…to be active in their communities.
…to advocate for themselves and avoid human rights abuse.
Internationally — Women in Literacy initiative shows that women who learn to read and write gain self-esteem, become self-sufficient, and take action to change their own lives and life within their communities.
…to avoid crime.
We recognize a sad truth that Metro Detroit has far too many functionally illiterate adults, people often reading below a fifth-grade level, unable to read to their children. Various studies are sobering:Up to 47% of Detroit adults are functionally illiterate, with Wayne County up to 36%, Macomb and Oakland at 13%. Efforts by Educate Our Kids USA and other agencies are working on behalf of education in the Detroit region to reform K-12 by focusing on academic outcomes to help increase high school graduation, college and career readiness for all students. Incorporating Digital Learning with Blended Learning techniques are the first step towards education reform. Connecting the dots between children and adults, poorly educated kids become high school dropouts.
Without English and essential educational skills, families and adult learners cannot achieve their full potential. Increasing literacy, decreases social problems, poverty, crime and health care cost. Literacy prepare adults for gainful employment to provide for their families. As you read the facts below, you will realize that illiteracy is a problem that affects our entire society and not just individuals:
The National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47% of adults (more than 200,000 individuals) in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to adults who read and write between the 4th and 6th grade level;
According to the estimates by the United States Department of Labor, literacy problems cost the U.S. businesses about $255 billion a year in lost productivity;
50% of American Adults are unable to read a book at the eight grade level, 23% of American Adults are functional illiterate according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy;
According to the United States Department of Education, 22 million people each year (44,000 people each week) are added to the adult illiterate population in the United States;
Adults with limited reading and writing abilities have poorer health, avoid seeing a doctor which results in worsening conditions that leads to increased trips to the emergency room.
Families and adult learners needing basic education are an enormous potential asset. They want to improve their lives, their communities, and their children’s future. 90% of fortune 1000 companies stated that “Low literacy levels are limiting their productivity and profitability.” Literacy is essential for job opportunities, participation in civic and community engagement and meaningful involvement in children’s education. Literacy strengthens our economy, neighborhoods and families.