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Illiteracy, A Problem Facing W

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Illiteracy, A Problem Facing Women

     I was quite amazed as I researched the topic of illiteracy in America. What exactly is illiteracy? Illiteracy is defined in the Webster’s dictionary as: 1) not educated; especially, not knowing how to read or write. 2) showing a lack of education --noun. a person who does not know how to read or write -- illiteracy. May-be someone can read just a little, some can make out the sounds of a word and some just cannot read at all. Illiteracy is a “loss” to those who cannot read or write. The impact of illiteracy is devastating. This problem causes other problems as listed below.

· Loss of job opportunities in the market place

· Without a job people must rely on
          - Unemployment
          - Social Assistance to survive, Welfare, Medicare

· The illiterate does not have the reading and writing skills to reinforce these skills in their children.
          - The illiterate cycle begins here!

· Illiteracy promotes high level of criminal behavior.
- Example: Correctional facilities have an average of Grade Three reading level.

Not only does the definition of illiteracy mean “loss” but to me it’s the root of poverty, crime and lost productivity in our cities.

     Now that I have defined illiteracy, I want to raise the awareness of this problem, how it relates to women and propose a policy to help solve the problem. Illiteracy exists in America and in all nations all over the world, and the percentages of illiterate women are much higher than illiterate men. Many people assume that illiterate Americans are concentrated in large cities with troubled schools. Although this may be true in some cases, there are rural areas where illiterate women are overlooked.

     According to the most recent statistics in the World Education Report, a study released last year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, almost one-quarter of the world’s population, or 905 million individuals between 15 years of age and adulthood cannot read. Women account for 65 percent of the globe’s illiterate population. That’s more than half! Many women become and are dependent because of this problem. Illiteracy rates among females in some South Asian and African countries reach 80 percent because of culture. In Nepal, 93 percent of women over 30 live without being able to read. The majority of women that have this problem are due to:
1. culture                          
2. social aspects of women
3. religion
4. history
5. poverty
6. family responsibility
7. access to where classes are taught

We can look at the above factors in determining the reason for the high level of illiteracy, and other reasons as well. The problem is real, and the solution is even harder to try to solve. Illiteracy should not be the problem that it is, and especially different among genders.

     Another example of the illiteracy problem was presented in the NY Times. “An elderly New York City woman recently teetered on the brink of death for no apparent reason. After hours of questioning, hospital doctors handling her case determined that illiteracy spurred the crises. For several weeks, she had ingested too much medication because she could not read a prescription label.” What can be done to solve the illiteracy problem?

     There are many solutions to the problem of illiteracy, but illiteracy is almost like a cold. There is not one main cure for it, but some solutions may be better than others such as continuing programs for the illiterate, and more money for our libraries. Although Government plays a big role in most of the programs, it raises issues such as where to focus the problem. Is it illiteracy itself or the causes it creates? It’s expensive to educate, but more expensive not too. The democratic role, liberal role or republican role are all here to help stamp out illiteracy, but they also realize the problem lies within the individual. They have to have the will or the desire to conquer their obstacles and reach out and seek help.
     My proposed policy would also focuses on the family literacy program to include:
· programs that contribute more to public understanding on the nature of literacy and its importance to the family and especially women
· to focus on the female role and her importance
· to make programs accessible for low-income women
· to continue with the female role models such as teachers
· women who need to have more highly specialized programs which will contribute to their lifestyles
· raise more awareness in men on the importance of illiteracy and its impact on women
· children would read instead of being placed in front of the television
· children would read instead of playing computer games
· Sr. High School students as well as colleges would donate a semester to helping the illiterate women and all who are illiterate. This plan would be two folds. The students would capitalize the results in a report that can help the students to realize its importance and the problem while helping the illiterate to become illiterate.

     We need to not only look at the standard attack on illiteracy, but go beyond that and reach the sole, “the families, and or the parent(s)”. Whether we are single moms or dads, we all need to continue the attack on illiteracy through more awareness. More women need to be educated on this problem. We need to make programs workable and accessible to all women. This would create a positive trend by breaking the poverty cycle and will provide contributions to not only the individual to promote self-esteem, but contributions to the families, cities, states and the world. Together we can help solve the problem of illiteracy!!

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