header literacy

Why is literacy important?

The economic impact of illiteracy

"Illiteracy breeds exclusion in every area of society, and it comes with a hefty price tag. In 2010, it was estimated that illiteracy costs South Africa R450 billion each year. “In a cross-country growth model, poor quality schooling emerges as the variable requiring the most urgent policy attention to sustain and improve South Africa’s economic development. Both microeconomic and macroeconomic estimates suggest that with a more typical level of school performance South Africa’s GDP would be 23% to 30% higher than it currently is.”

Low levels of literacy and education in general can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly-changing, technology-driven world.

Illiteracy is a threat to democracy

Not only the economy will suffer from a labour force that is poorly educated but our democracy itself will also be poorer if citizens cannot enjoy their civil and political rights meaningfully in the absence of a culture of reading, and reading with comprehension.

It is impossible to exaggerate the stakes. A deliberative and participatory model of democracy presupposes a critical mass of citizens who read, and who do so with comprehension.

That means the democratic project is fatally wounded without an urgent national plan to teach teachers how to teach reading better and to ensure well-stocked public libraries in all our communities and one in every school, as well as developing and entrenching a culture of reading and of enjoying books, as much as our children love technology.

Read more in Mail&Guardian: https://mg.co.za/article/2017-12-08-00-illiteracy-threatens-our-democracy/

  • 702/CapeTalk host Eusebius McKaiser said that the young are being set up for guaranteed failure, and democracy in itself is in trouble if our children cannot read with comprehension.
  • Stephen Taylor, Director of Research at the Department of Basic Education: 
    • Early reading outcomes are strongly predictive of later education outcomes like getting to matric.
    • If we look at between 2006 and 2011 there actually does seem to be an improvement. 

Read more and listen to the podcast on Cape Talk: http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/284552/

Literacy and the Future

"Education – formal primary, secondary, vocational, and higher – is impossible without first acquiring basic literacy. Nor is it possible, without literacy, to teach knowledge, attitudes and skills that are subsumed under non-formal education. Functional literacy (with its focus typically on economic functions), civic literacy (with its interest in political education), adult basic education and training as well as adult continuing education, all must teach literacy to make their pupils, self-learning, independent students."

Read more on read.org.za

The benefits of literacy

"Improved literacy can contribute to economic growth; reduce poverty; reduce crime; promote democracy; increase civic engagement; prevent HIV/AIDS and other diseases through information provision; enhance cultural diversity through literacy programmes in minority languages; lead to lower birth rates as a result of increased education; and confer personal benefits such as increased self-esteem, confidence and empowerment. "

Read more on read.org.za

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