What is Illiteracy?


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What exactly is illiteracy? An adult or adults with a reading incapacity, a lack of knowledge of a subject, and/or a error in speech or writing according to Encarta World English Dictionary is a person or persons with illiteracy. Ronald Nash the author of an on-line article entitled “The Three Kinds of Illiteracy” he describes the three different types of illiteracy. Nash explains in detail cultural, moral, and functional illiteracy in his article. Cultural illiteracy defined by E.D. Hirsch Jr. is to possess the basic information needed to thrive in the modern world (Nash). Moral illiteracy is not being taught or lacked the education and understandings in religious or spiritual beliefs (Nash). Functional illiteracy refers to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life (Literacy Center for the Midlands). Functional illiteracy is probably the most familiar and known to the public out of the three.
     Functional illiteracy is measured on a scale of five levels. Level one is an adult or adults who can read a little, but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or a simple story to a child (NIFL: National Institute for Literacy- Frequently Asked Questions). Level two adult or adults can perform more complex tasks such as comparing and contrasting a situation (NIFL: National Institute for Literacy- Frequently Asked Questions). Level three to level five adult or adults usually perform the same types of more complex tasks on increasingly lengthy and dense texts and documents (NIFL: National Institute for Literacy- Frequently Asked Questions).
     According to the A Untied Way Agency web page posts on-line article entitled The Scope of Illiteracy in this Country, 23% of adults who were surveyed by the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), were at level one illiteracy. 25%- 28% of the adults surveyed were at the second lowest level, that is level two (The Scope of Illiteracy in this Country). This information was released to the public in September 1993, but the survey was complete in 1992 (Literacy Center for the Midlands-Facts on Illiteracy). This survey measured three areas that included: pose, documentation, and quantitative proficiency (Literacy Center for the Midlands-Facts on Illiteracy).
     Through many studies it has shown that illiteracy has a significant impact on the economy (Economic Impact of Illiteracy in this Country). The American Council of Life Insurance reports that three quarters of the Fortune 500 companies provide some level of remedial training for their workers (Economic Impact of Illiteracy in this Country).

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According to Economic Impact of Illiteracy in this Country an online article reports that a study done by the Northeast Midwest Institute and The Center for Regional Policy found business losses attribute to basic skills deficiencies run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is due to the low productivity, errors, and accidents that occur on the job (Economic Impact of Illiteracy in this Country). Some think that illiteracy may be the cause of many deaths that occur (Illiteracy) About 30% of 2,659 patients had inadequate comprehension of the written instructions on the prescription bottles according to an on-line article entitled Illiteracy.
     America has many affected areas which illiteracy maybe larger than anyone may seem to think. In Mississippi, the worst ranked state in America, about every third person is placed at level one illiteracy (Roberts). Roberts reports in the state of Michigan that 18% of adults, nearly one in five, were functionally illiterate. In Detroit, Michigan 47% of its residents scored level one in the National Institute for Literacy (NIL) Survey (Roberts).
     The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) will be holding a national survey in the year 2002 (NAAL 2002: Overview). This survey is an in-person survey that includes an assessment of English-language literacy skills and a computer assisted interview to collect background information (NAAL 2002:Overview). Also this survey will measure the ability to use printed or written materials to perform prose, documentation, and quantitative tasks that simulate real-life experiences (NAAL 2002: Overview). This survey will compare its results with the 1992 NAAL survey (NAAL 2002:Overview).
     There is not one specific reason on the cause for illiteracy (The Reasons for Adult Illiteracy). An on-line article entitled The Reasons for Adult Illiteracy states that a person might have left school early and not received a good education to comprehend some text formats. Also a person may have a physical or emotional disability that makes it harder for he/she to learn (The Reasons for Adult Illiteracy). Other factors that could contribution to the causes are ineffective teachers or the person may have been unready at the time reading instruction began (The Reasons for Adult Illiteracy). These are just a few reasons why a person may have an illiteracy problem; many other factors can be affiliated to the causes. When a child is ready to learn introduce the material slowly and make the information fun and appealing to him or her. The one way to eliminate illiteracy for the children of the future is to start now and build each of them a future that is promising.


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