International Literacy Day

ild16-unesco Why should International Literacy Day matter to people living here in southwest Minnesota?

This is the 50th anniversary of ILD. WeLiteracy is considered a human right. While significant progress has been made worldwide since the first ILD in 1966, it is estimated that 15% of people in the world are illiterate. The majority of these are women, most of them living in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. This creates a significant financial burden not only on these women and their children, but also leads to a greater economic burden and health concerns for their region and the world.

According to data from the survey of adult skills, 1 out of 6 adults in the United States reads below a level that is considered to be proficient enough to function well in a 21st century setting. 1 out of 3 adults in the U.S. lacks sufficient numeracy skills, and  1 out of 3 adults cannot problem solve adequately in a technology-rich environment. Such a lack of literacy skills has a real impact on both the workforce and social outcomes, including health and civic engagement.

We are fortunate in Minnesota to have quality schools, but a persistent achievement gap exists for students of color, English learners, and students from lower income families. We also have quality adult education options, but there are barriers to adult participation in such programs. The number one barrier is that adults need to work to support themselves and their families, and it can be difficult to balance work and family obligations in order to attend classes or participate in online learning.

Why should ILD matter? We live in a global economy and in an interconnected world. Literacy levels directly influence income and wages, women’s rights, children’s academic success, and political stability. When people do not have adequate literacy skills to function fully in 21st century society, the consequences of this have a negative effect on us all. Consider becoming a literacy volunteer and making a difference locally, and please stay informed about literacy issues on a global level. Our steps in August and September 2016 were intended to raise awareness about literacy issues. Thanks go to all our walkers.

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