How big of a problem is adult literacy?


We often take the quality of our education for granted. Our parents sent us to good schools, give us the best of everything and we reap the rewards. Being able to read and write was never going to cause an issue for many people reading this as our parents ensured we got the education we needed as children. However, as this infographic from Trainwest outlines, not everyone has these opportunities available to them. For example, between 40 to 44 million Americans can only read at a basic or below basic proficiency level.

The impact of low literacy on the individual extends far beyond being able to read. They generally end up in low-quality jobs which leads to a perilous financial position. This then leads to low self-esteem and can lead to people trying to isolate themselves.

It can often be difficult for illiterate adults to get out of the rut as reading is so fundamental to functioning in today’s society. They can often be too ashamed to get the help they need. It’s not hard to envisage how this would happen as it is often simply assumed that adults can read.

Another issue with adult literacy is that it is often generational and if the adult can’t read it is likely that their children will also have difficulties with reading. Often, in these situations, little interest is given to education and reading as a family unit.

Being unable to read and write makes it difficult for us to learn. Writing is the main way we work and learn – in college, in the workplace and everywhere in between. Often there is a problem with literacy programs as they sometimes do not understand the experiences of the adults they’re trying to serve. They are often set up just like school and don’t address the realities of these adults on a daily basis. Students with different goals should be in different programs. Find out more in the infographic.


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