September 8th is International Literacy Day!

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope…Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity…Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential,” said Kofi Annan.

We wanted to share this quote with you because today is International Literacy day! There are many reasons to support and promote literacy, but most importantly, because it is a fundamental right for all individuals.

To lead, one must read.

 To become a sophisticated leader, one must have the desire to continuously learn more. Reading allows a person to become enlightened on a subject that may have been foreign before. Also, reading generates conversations about foreign concepts which could lead to greater insight.

Literacy education is not offered to all individuals.

 Sadly, literacy education is not being taught in all areas of the world. According to Literacy Worldwide, 781 million people cannot read or write. On a smaller scale, the Literacy Project Foundation claims that 45 million Americans are illiterate and cannot read above a fifth grade level. These alarming statistics reveal the importance of promoting literacy so that all members of society have an equal chance of succeeding.

It is easy to get involved.

 One simple search on the Internet can provide several ways to get involved with the promotion of literacy education. An example of local scale opportunities is the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition which encourages concerned individuals to become a tutor or volunteer at one of their events. The organization hosts several events throughout the year, one major event being the Dahlonega Literary Festival. The free festival is hosted in downtown Dahlonega and serves as a chance for readers to interact and mingle with several authors from all different genres.

The organization believes that literacy can solve a community’s issues, such as poverty, unemployment, and high school dropout rates.

Literacy is an all-inclusive concept, and if we all participated in its promotion, the world would be a happier and successful place.

What do you do to promote literacy in your community?

Literacy: How Should We Define It?

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy study done in 2003 (the latest study), approximately 14% of adult Americans are functionally illiterate. However,  looking at Georgia alone, 17% of the adult population lacks basic literary skills.  (You can view more statistics here.)  How does this effect us?

How should we define literacy? The Oxford English Dictionary Online defines literacy as “The quality, condition, or state of being literate; the ability to read and write” (“Literacy”).  Through the recent legislative look at the No Child Left Behind Act, some have been discussing expanding the definition of literacy to include what we have formerly separated as “computer literacy.” Do you think this is a valid argument? Should literacy extend beyond writing and reading to an ability to engage in these actions in a digital form?

References:

“Definitions of Literacy Terms in ESEA.” National Council of Teachers of English. NCTE. 29 March 2012. Web. Retrieved on 2 April 2012 from http://www.ncte.org/action/updates/esea/literacyterms.

“Literacy.” Oxford English Dictionary Online. Retrieved on 2 April 2012 from http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/109054?redirectedFrom=literacy#eid.

“National Assessment of Adult Literacy.” National Center for Educational Statistics. Institute of Educational Sciences. 2003. Web. Retrieved on 2 April 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/naal/estimates/Index.aspx.