Adult Illiteracy

AdultIlliteracy

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AdultIlliteracy

It is surprisingthat a good proportion of the American adult population cannot read,write or even perform simple math calculations. With this inabilityto perform simple arithmetic, inability to read and write, accessingwell-paying jobs becomes a problem. What this therefore implies isthat there will be job categories which cannot be handled by thisgroup. The media has been considered to be the greatest source ofinformation. Gone are the days when communication required physicalcontact as individuals were obliged to travel long distances. Manyages ago, messengers were used to pass communication by use of mouthwhich meant that there was no need of having an ability to read awritten message. But this had its many setbacks. It led to thedistortion of information as the people were prone to forget.Illiteracy entails the lack of both numeracy and literacy skills.Some of the goals implemented to address the problem of adultilliteracy include encouraging them to visit local libraries andvolunteering to teach them on basic numeracy skills. In this era, thebest approach for teaching literacy is the use of phonics.

It is expectedthat individuals catch up with the advancement and acquaintthemselves with the changes. Illiteracy can also take shape in theform of being unable to relate clearly with the current technologicaladvancement for example the use of computers which is growingrapidly. It is a social problem that many have avoided to shed lighton, but it remains rampant in our societies. It has not only affecteddeveloping countries but developed countries as well. Adults are themost affected as they fail to catch up with the fast-movingtechnology.

Many researcherstend to ignore this important aspect of social life that ends upaffecting the entire economy. Adults should be exposed to technologyand be taught on the importance of literacy as a means of promotingproductivity. Fantasia Barrino, an American idol, had many of herfans in shock when she revealed she had little education. The societyexpects many of its idols to be well educated and well conversantwith the current trends. None of her fans expected her to be at thatlevel with a little education. More than 30 million adults in theUnited States of America cannot read or write. Adult illiteracy issuch a problem in this country that if solved, can lead to economicrobust of the entire nation. . According to Mortensen (2012), theimpacts of illiteracy in many continents is not only social but alsoeconomic in that it affects the growth of a nation in terms of jobcreation, job appointments and even political leadership. Thesolution to this alarming rate of illiteracy should be a concertedeffort by the government to promote an easier accessibility oflearning institutions to the people, create a massive awareness ofthe advantages of the citizens being well educated and even fundhigher education for the many that are willing to learn but lack thefunds to do so.

BackgroundInformation

John Denham, awriter and researcher of knowledge and literacy in the Guardianmagazine, states that illiterate adults like those in Channel 4’srequire special provisions as they can neither read or write. Heproceeds by providing some strategies that can be employed to dealwith the problem at hand (Denham, 2008). Since the year 2001, theAmerican government has invested billions of funds in a bid toprovide literacy and numeracy skills for both the English andnon-English speakers. The effort that has been already put has shownsome success in that a target was met two years earlier than expected(Awang, 2016). A majority of illiterate adults could read to theirchildren and work out their weekly bills, something they never didbefore.

As a way ofcementing the intensity of the problem, the American governmentintroduced the first ever curriculum that was meant for adultliteracy[ CITATION USD12 l 1033 ]. The curriculum provided nationalstandards and learning materials for the population that was intendedto use it. It means that the matter is so serious that the governmenthas offered to do all it can to deal with it. The high illiteracylevel is costing the government a lot of revenue. An increase in thedegree of literacy is an assurance that the state will earn more andimprove the state of its economy[ CITATION Lus14 l 1033 ]. Manygovernments are trailing because they have a large dependent group.Dealing with illiteracy will be a big stride in addressing theproblem of adult illiteracy in America.

One of the majorsteps towards improving literacy level in America is to promotebetter accessibility of learning centres in every state. There are agood number of community literacy centers that have been started insome states, but there is much that is still left to be done. It goeswithout say that education and literacy are two important aspects ofthe construction of a socially and economically stable environmentfor both the present and future generations. Despite its low rank inthe illiteracy levels, America is still faced with this burden.Africa and India are the leading in illiteracy levels, as seen inUNESCO O’s statistical yearbook.

Mortensendefines illiteracy as the inability to attain the literate foundationupon which success is based on (Mortensen, 2012). To emphasize on theweight of the matter, Yeoh and Chu describe adult illiteracy as oneof the most emerging problems that act as a hindrance to development(Yeoh &amp Chu, 2016). As long as the vice will be in the society,economic stagnation is bound to happen. The earlier scholars definedliteracy as the capacity and ability to articulate letters and readtexts composed from such letters. With time, the meaning gotcomprehensive and covered more ground.

Healthy survivalrequires the basic skills of reading and writing. The level ofliteracy is a direct indicator of the quality of life that andindividual leads. It means that literate people cope well with boththe social and economic environment as compared to the illiteratecategory. Illiterate adults find it hard to secure good jobs as theyare faced with the burden of communication. No right-minded employerwould allow an illiterate individual to work in their offices inclerical positions. Individuals who cannot read simple things asbillboard signs are thought to be dictated to make decisions based ontheir levels of literacy.

TheCurrent Situation

Adults areindividuals who have attained the age of sixteen as ruled out in theAmerican Constitution. The study, therefore, concentrates on theyouth, the young adults, the middle age category and the elderly aswell. The 2013 national statistics pointed out that more than 120million of the youth were illiterate. It is just a random figure andan iceberg tip representation given that the study did not cover thewhole population. Every year, the American government spendsapproximately 240 billion dollars in addressing illiteracy. It issuch a huge figure that can be used in developing other aspects ofthe economy were it not be illiteracy. Such information is alarmingand has been considered important as it forms the basis of searchingfor a solution and implementing it (Heiko, 2015).

It has come tothe point of discrimination based on the level of literacy ofindividuals. Researchers have termed it as a burden of literacy thatworsens the economic state of the country. Illiteracy has led to anincrease in population. Illiterate people are free and have a lot oftime doing nothing. Since a great proportion of their time is spentindoors, they tend to engage in pleasurable activities and may end upgiving birth to more children. When individuals are illiterate, theytend to isolate themselves and form geographical and linguisticblocks.

Illiteracy hasbeen linked with many effects in America as pointed by Rosenberg, oneof the top researchers in the field. She links illiteracy toinadequate national infrastructure as well as an increase in bothethnic and social tension (Rosenberg, 2011). There is a decrease inthe national cohesion and integration. Infrastructure is notadequate, complicating the issues of non-supportive internationaleconomic policies. It becomes difficult for an illiterate employee toadapt to the fast-changing working environment. They become obsoletein their environment. Technology has a major role to play inilliteracy. Illiterate individuals who have been exposed to simpletechnology have been found to show a better output compared to thosewho have no clue of what technology is. Rosenberg restates thattechnology is constantly transforming the American workplace.

It is disturbingto find illiteracy even in the workplace. These are the areas wherewe expect literacy to be high and in tandem with theever-transforming technology. Let us consider that child in thestreets who was raised and later on abandoned by an illiterateparent. They learned nothing else from their parents but survival.The best gift ever that any parent can give to their children iseducation. Such is an investment that will benefit all thegenerations in a single lineage. Literate parents train theirchildren to be independent and cope in a world that is changing athigh speed. The chain of illiteracy will never come to an end unlesswe deal with the cause. It is the effort we make that will becomepivotal in getting rid of the vicious cycle of illiteracy (Asici,2016).

Dealingwith

The governmentmay have tried to implement strategies that are aimed at alleviatingilliteracy in the society. The present world has no room forilliterate individuals. The world is so competitive that illiteratepeople find it difficult to cope. It is paramount to note that thelevel of literacy is a pertinent pillar to consider when discussioneconomic growth. Some of the proposed solutions to help deal withilliteracy are discussed below.

i.Early Childhood Prioritization

There is thegeneral belief of the river having its cause. A problem is fullyunderstood and addressed when the cause is identified. In our case,adult illiteracy originates from childhood. The importance ofeducation should be overemphasized to ensure that the informationreaches all the adults. Denham reiterates the role of early childhoodprioritization in dealing with illiteracy. The idea is welcome to thecommunity, and the government is already doing something about it. Asizable response is required to deal with the marauding challenge ofilliteracy that is delimiting economic robust (Denham, 2008).Children should be treated as leaders for tomorrow, and educationprioritized to this age group.

There should bemotivations put in place for adults who agree to receive basiceducation as a means of empowering them. I would like to single outthe Washington Literacy Center that has motivated its adult studentsby allowing them to be taught by their children. When a child iseducated, the whole family benefits. The past may have been marred byignorance, poverty, and illiteracy but this should not be a hindranceto prioritizing early childhood education. More space should becreated in learning institutions to cater for the adults who arewilling to acquire the basic and function skills to read and write.

ii.Involve Everyone

Dealing withilliteracy should not be left to the government alone. Communityleaders, teachers, and school districts need to join hands and fightthis vice with a common spirit. The higher learning institutionsshould get involved as well and may offer a forum for adult studentor finance any initiative that is aimed at raising literacy levels inthe society. We can be involved by donating books that may go a longway in salvaging the already deteriorating situation. If possible, wecan be involved directly by offering ourselves to teach theilliterate adults on a volunteer basis. Little effort, when combined,can be enough to save our nation and improve literacy (Yeoh &ampChu, 2016).

As the CEO ofthe U.S Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue supports the idea ofbringing everyone on board. He considers illiteracy as a stumblingblock to pro-business causes. Some employers have absorbed illiterateindividuals in their organizations. Such are the individuals who havebeen given light and basic tasks that do not require complexcalculations and expertise. The organizations should come up withforums that are meant to educate the individuals as a way ofimproving their levels of knowledge. It is an initiative that iswelcome and can be welcomed to the larger community. Donohue’sideas on this proposed solution make it viable.

Peer-reviewedScholarly Articles

Hongwei Cuiconducted a study in 2011 to compare the indications of average yearsof education and the adult illiteracy rate. The study was publishedin the Advanced Materials Research Journal. The study found out thatthe level of literacy is highly impacted by the population structureof a specific country. The study focusses on China and found outindividuals aged 60 years and above are less literate because theywere born when the education system was not high.

The datacollected is valid to be used in this discussion. The study was meantto find out the levels of illiteracy in the country and try to findout the cause. To some extent, the source is reliable as it ispublished in a peer-reviewed article and used pre-tested datacollection tools. Bias comes in when we use data from a country thatis from a different continent as the one under argument.

StatisticalData

According to theUS National Education on the issue of National Literacy (2012), anestimated 32 million adults in America are not literate. Thisrepresents about 14% of the entire American population that cannotread a prose article. This quantitative data when compared to aglobal scale of people within the age bracket of 15 years and above,gives the United States a good rank. This is because globally, theilliteracy levels are of seven hundred and seventy-four millionadults (Education, 2012).

The illiteracylevels are, however, measured at different levels of literacy. Thetable below shows a research result by the national literacy surveyon different levels of education.

Reading type

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

prose

29%

3

1

0

document

25%

3

1

0

quantitative

26%

3

1

0

Writing

prose

34%

6%

2%

1%

Document

30%

6%

2

1

Quantitative

30%

7%

3

1

Table 1. Researchresult by the national literacy survey on different levels ofeducation.

There is anotable contrast that appears when the quantitative data is comparedto the English literacy levels and the data gathered on actualperformance. It is shown that from the population that was sampled,while 34% of the persons reported that they could not write inEnglish, only a 29% of them could not read in English.

Another notablecontrast is the number of persons who reported inability to read welland write well. Of those level 1 adults, 26% could not be in aposition to read well while 30% could not write well.

The data thatwas collected tabled in the diagram above indicates the high numberof adults that are ranked at the lowest level of literacy did notperceive that they had any notable problem when it comes to writingor conducting reading activities in the English language. This isalarming because in believing that they don’t have a problem withtheir literacy levels when it comes to writing and reading, theseclasses of respondents will not be in a position to look out forservices which may be geared towards bettering their literacy. Theywill thus be less willing to take advantage of the literacy improvingprograms that may be available to them.

Reliability

The collecteddata used the ability to read and the ability to write in English astools of measure of literacy levels. This method is quite reliable,and its level of validity is better as compared to any other means ofliteracy measurement techniques.

Bias

The bias thatcan be evident is to questions directed to the informants. The tasksof reading or writing that the informants can be given to test theirproficiency can vary from one subject to another. This provides aform of imbalance as a mid-level literate adult can be in a positionas not to write some words.

A different wayto determine the level of literacy in adults and their ability toread and write is through questioning the frequency of help theyreceive in performing some literacy duties like document reading andeven prose writing. From the research done, there was a lot ofassistance-seeking from the adults who have ranked at level 1 ofliteracy. This is the least literacy level that was being recorded inthe research. When it came to the tasks like filling out forms, thoseranked at level 1 recorded the highest number assistance seeking.Other tasks that were noted are the like, reading printed informationand doing basic arithmetic. It is, however, important to note thateven those persons in the highest ranked level of literacy alsoresponded positively to seeking help when it came to fillinggovernment printed information. Some of these included documents ongovernment agencies, business whether they are privately owned orgovernment owned and even hospital records. This help is reported tobe sought from family members (Tamariz L, 2013).

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Reading printed data

23%

8%

5%

2%

1%

Filling forms

25%

12%

7%

4%

2%

Conducting basic arithmetic

14%

4%

2%

1%

0

Table 2.

Row one is arepresentation of the percentage of adults that were involved in theprose literacy. The second row shows the percentage of people on thelevel of document literacy while the third row has adults thatresponded to the level of quantitative literacy.

From the resultscollected, it was noted that the adults in the lowest level ofliteracy were more likely to seek a lot of help from the tasks thatrequired their literacy. This included tasks like filling documentsand event conducting basic arithmetic. It is important to note thatfrom the total population that was in the sample, an approximate 12percent sought help from family members and friends. Of the totalpopulation seeking any form of literacy help, a 4% of them were insearch of basic arithmetic help.

Validityand Reliability

This illiteracydata collected through gauging the level of illiteracy through theresponses given in terms help-seeking is reliable. Most people seekhelp because of difficulty in decoding information being transmittedin printed form and even conducting basic arithmetic problems. Thelower the level of literacy, the higher up one ranks in seeking helpto conduct arithmetic problems and even reading any conveyed messagethat may be in print or written form.

Bias

There is bias inthis kind of literacy measurement considering that even the mostliterate persons tend to seek for help when filing importantdocuments. This is so because especially in documents that requires acomparative outlook and whose opinion requires multiple points ofview. It, therefore, does not imply that the numbers recorded fromthe results are a reflection of a high illiteracy level because aperson sought help in filling an official document.

EthicalOutcomes

Positiveoutcomes

It has beennoted even in offenders that decided to embrace education andincrease their literacy levels, their tendency to participate incrime reduce substantially (Lusardi A, 2014).

A high literacylevel has also been linked to better living conditions. It ispositively linked to increased income and thus leading a better life.

Negativeoutcomes

Illiteracylevels in people may make them in result to criminal activities sincethey cannot acquire decent jobs in the society. This may, therefore,cause increase in crime and lawlessness (Lusardi A, 2014).

There is anincreased number of people who are having the challenge of readingfrom an early age will opt to drop out of school. Such childrenshould be given special attention so as to continue with educationwith guidance.

In cases of lowliteracy levels, the people are pre-disposed to pursuing short-termworks and even training programs. (Lusardi A, 2014)

Financial aid tofinance the improving rate of literacy is largely unavailable, yetthey are the ones that need it most.

Conclusion

Illiteracyentails the lack of skills in literature which include reading andwriting. Solving of basic arithmetic problems is an added advantagein gauging of a person’s level of literacy. The gauge is,therefore, regarding calculation of basic arithmetic, reading prosearticles and even writing some words in English. In this period ofimproved technology, there are however important high levels ofilliteracy in the United States of America. The impact of illiteracyhas affected a number of people both socially and economically. Somepeople cannot get good and well-paying jobs because of their levelsof education. The government cannot improve its economic status interms of improving the living standards of its people because thisrequires creation of good jobs. This jobs however requirewell-learned people. The American government is however, putting inmeasures to increase the literacy levels among its citizens. Amongthe measures discussed is increasing the number of learning centresin each state so that education can be easily accessed. Thegovernment is prioritizing early childhood education throughpromoting functional reading and writing skills from such a tenderage. Another measure being put in place is community involvementwhere teachers, leaders and students work in hand to salvage thelearning situation in the country. Many of the elderly communitymembers are also being motivated to receive basic education so thatthey can also be empowered.

References

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Awang, S. (2016). Lifelong Education In Malaysia: Eredicating Illiteracy Or Social Safety Nets? European Scientific Journal, 199.

Callahan R, G. P. (2014). the bilingual advantage: language, literacy and the US labor market. multilingual matters.

Denham, J. (2008, July 28). The right strategies for dealing with adult illiteracy. The Guardian.

Duff F, R. G. (2015). Do infant vocabulary skills predict school-age language and literacy outcomes? journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 848- 856.

Education, U. D. (2012). eduaction and literacy statitistics. adult literacy survey.

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Heiko, R. (2015). Instructed Illiteracy Reveals Expertise-Effects On Unconscious Processing. rontiers In Psychology, 1-5.

Lusardi A, M. O. (2014). the economic importance of financil literacy: theory and evidence. journal of economic literature, 5- 44.

Mortensen, P. (2012). The Work Of Illiteracy In The Rhetorical Curriculum. Journal Of Curriculum Studies 44.6, 761-786.

Rosenberg, S. (2011). Illiteracy: An Economic And Human Tragedy. Human Resource Development Quarterly , 389-392.

Tamariz L, P. A. (2013). improving the informed consent process for research subjects with low literacy: a systemic review. journal of geenral internal medicine, 121- 126.

Yeoh, E., &amp Chu, K.-M. (2016). Literacy And Education In Contemporary China: Daunting Challenges Amidst Rapid Economic Development. Copenhagen Journal Of Asian Studies , 84-121.