The Effects of a Low Literacy Rate “The devil of illiteracy had been given a staging post in the temple of the written word” –Dean Koontz. While the benefits of a high literacy rate tend to speak for themselves, many people prefer to overlook the costs of a low literacy rate. A low literacy rate can affect just about everything a person does in their life after graduating high school. It will influence profession or career they choose, the amount of income they make, and subsequently the areas and neighborhoods where they can afford to live.
It can even affect their family life and the health of interpersonal relationships. Many people are leaving their schooling with a dangerously low literacy rate, all too unknowing of the consequences that poor schooling, a lack of interest in academics, or even just the lack of proper learning tools can have on their futures. According to Literacy and Growth (Serge Coulombe, Jean-Francois Trembley), the higher a literacy rate country has, the more likely it will experience growth in terms of productivity and technology.
The study also indicates that women’s literacy is more likely to have a more powerful effect on the growth of a country than the literacy rate of men. The effects that just one extra year of schooling can have are fairly large, with as much as a 7% increase in labor productivity over men. When people are more productive, they are more likely to not only understand the importance of being able to access technology, but they will also be able to afford to utilize it.
This means that when the literacy rate of a country as a whole is higher, that country is much more likely to have better access to technology for its citizens. Having a well educated and literate populace also indicated that there will be a higher likelihood of developing new technology as people will have the knowledge and the means to improve or invent new devices. It also means that the people of the country are more likely to show an increase in productivity over those in other less educated areas.
A likely explanation is that there is an understanding that working not only harder, but smarter as well, can increase their worth as an employee and improve their pay rate, and therefore improve their lifestyle. In today’s world of closely connected international business and trade, this increase in productivity can have a global affect, not just a local one. When it comes to global influence, a country that has a higher literacy rate, such as the United States, England, and Japan, is more likely to have a greater amount of power on a worldwide scale.
The study done in Society’s Level of Literacy: A Cross Cultural Study (Amir Shoham), shows there is definitely a connection between a higher level of literacy and a more egalitarian society where everyone in the society has the chance and means to rise or fall within the social strata, unlike a country such as India where the classes are organized into a rigid caste system based on birth and occupation. This means that when there is a higher level of literacy in a country as a whole, it is more likely that the citizens will be treated with more equality and respect than in countries where the literacy level is low.
A higher level of literacy is also more likely to lead to having more personal power and influence within a community or government, neatly proving the old adage that “Knowledge is Power”. While a high or low literacy rate can impact a country’s power and influence on a global scale, the effects a low literacy rate can have on an individual’s life are much more pronounced. In The Effects of Adult Literacy on Earnings and Employment (Mauna Soares de Baldini Rocha, Vladimir Ponczek), it indicates that adult literacy has a positive or negative effect on how employable a person is.
The higher a literacy rate a person has, the more likely they will be hire. The benefits of a higher literacy rate don’t stop there; a higher literacy rate is also more likely to lead to better jobs, instead of minimum wage entry level employment. People who are more literate show higher motivation, and make more efforts to be productive, which, as a matter of course, will lead to better opportunities. A lower literacy rate can have such a large effect on how a person’s life is lived that it is almost startling in comparison to that of an individual with a higher rate of literacy.
In Literacy Changes Lives: An Advocacy Resource (George Dugdale, Christina Clark) we learn that 22% of men and 30% of women with a low literacy rate ( that is to say, below entry level 2) live in households where the inhabitants do not work. When a person is in possession of a low literacy rate, they are very much more likely to live in overcrowded homes and low income housing, which can tie up those benefits for the other people who need them, with less access to computers and other literacy improving devices than those with a higher literacy rate.
Unfortunately, a low literacy rate can also make it difficult for a person to gain a higher literacy rate after high school, as less access to technology can have an effect on whether or not a person is even motivated to attain higher literacy. A low literacy rate can even have a negative effect on relationships, as those with poor literacy are more likely to divorce than those with higher rates. A higher literacy rate can even have an effect on how much one is paid.
The higher the literacy rate, the more likely a person is to see wage increases, and a higher starting wage. According to The Economic Benefits of Literacy: Evidence and Implications for Public Policy (Mike McCracken, T. Scott Murray), participation in programs like preschool and Early Childhood Learning classes, can have as much as a 32% improvement in high school dropout rates, which in turn leads to higher employability, and of course, higher wages, and better opportunities.
Early participation in learning can also have an effect on reducing the need for remedial education, reduced crime rates, reduced dependence on welfare, and other government programs, as well as better health, and the higher likelihood of pursuing higher education. Literacy rates also have a massive effect on the disabled, making an already more difficult life more likely to be full of hardship. In Literacy and Disabilities (no author listed) we discover that 20% of adults with disabilities have a 9th grade education or lower.
Half of adults with disabilities have under $15000 as their annual income. Almost half of adults with a low literacy rate live in low income housing, and 44% of adults with disabilities are even employed. This means that a low literacy rate in the disabled leads to an even higher need for assistance, be it from the government or others. As you can see, literacy rates really do affect many parts of life, from a personal scale to a global one. It can be a blessing when the literacy rate is high, and a real curse when it is low.
Just one extra year of schooling can mean the difference between that minimum wage job at a fast food place, and an entry level job at an office, with chances for promotions and higher learning paid for by the company. It can mean the difference between a country really being take seriously on the global scale, and a country being treated as a more powerless place. A low literacy rate is one of the most restrictive failings a person can suffer from, because it truly does affect so very much in an individual’s life. Literacy is extremely important, and should be treated as such. References
Literacy and Growth Coulombe, Serge, Trembley, Jean-Francois (http://ehis. ebscohost. com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=e55657fa-1a67-40dc-9d63-99bb1d786c16%40sessionmgr14&vid=2&hid=2 ) (Campus library) Society’s Level of Literacy:
A Cross-Cultural Study Shoham, Amir (http://ehis. ebscohost. com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=78684c9a-db42-495f-a28e-e049f22938d4%40sessionmgr15&vid=2&hid=2 ) (Campus library) The Effects Of Adult Literacy On Earnings And Employment Ponczek, Vladimir, Soares de Baldini Rocha,Mauna (http://bibliotecadigital. fgv. br/ocs/index. php/sbe/EBE08/paper/viewFile/407/55 ).
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