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The Role of Literacy in Society Essay

Adult literacy is essential to the economics of modern nations. It is crucial to individuals to have proficient literacy skills to make a difference to their prosperity. In 2003 the National Assessment of Adult Literacy used the following as a definition of literacy: using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential. This definition does not simply mean comprehending text it includes the range of information-processing skills that adults use in home, work and community.

Literacy can be subdivided into three different categories: prose literacy, document literacy, and quantitative literacy. Prose literacy is defined as editorials, news stories, poems and fiction; these can be broken down into two categories expository prose and narrative prose. Expository prose is printed information that defines, describes, or informs. Narrative prose tells a story. Prose literacy is divided into 5 different level of learning.

The first level of prose requires a person to read a short passage of text and locate a single piece of information that is identical with the information given. The second level of prose literacy requires a person to locate a single piece of information in the text, compare and contrast easily identifiable information based on criteria provided in the question, or integrate a few pieces of information, when distracters were present or when low level inferences were required.

Level 3 of the prose requires a person to match literal or synonymous information in the text with that requested in the question, to integrate many pieces of information from dense or lengthy text, or to generate a response based on information that could be easily identified in the text. The fourth level requires a person to search through text and match multiple features, and to integrate multiple pieces of information from complex passages.

The last level requires a person to search through text and match several features contained in dense text with a number of plausible distracters, to compare and contrast complex information, or to generate new information making high-level inferences. Document literacy is defined documents that are short forms or graphically displayed information found in everyday life. Some examples of document literacy are job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedule, etc. Document literacy is also divided up into five levels of document literacy.

The first level is requires a person to locate information based on a literal match to the question or to enter information from personal knowledge into a document. The next level requires the reader to match a piece of information either when several distracters were present or when low-level inferences were required. Level 3 requires a person to integrate multiple pieces of information from one or more documents. The fourth level requires a person to perform multiple-feature matches, cycle through documents, and integrate information, all of which required high-level inferences.

The fifth level requires a person to search through a complex displays that contained multiple distracters, to make high-level text-based inferences, and to use their specialized knowledge. Quantitative literacy is information that is displayed visually through graphs, charts, etc. Quantitative literacy like the other types of literacy is divided into five different levels. The first level requires a person to perform single, relatively simple arithmetic operations, such as addition, when the question included the numbers to be used and the arithmetic operation to be performed.

The second level requires a person to locate numbers by matching the required information with that given, infer the necessary arithmetic operation, or perform an arithmetic operation when the tasks specified the numbers and the operation to be performed. The third level requires a person to locate numbers by matching the required information with that given, infer the necessary arithmetic operation and perform arithmetic operations on two or more numbers, or to solve a problem, when the numbers must be located in the text or document.

The fourth level requires a person to perform two or more sequential arithmetic operations or a single arithmetic operation, when the quantities could be found in different displays, or when the operations had to be inferred from semantic information given or drawn from prior knowledge. The last level requires a person to perform multiple arithmetic operations sequentially, when the features of the problem had to be extracted from text; or when background knowledge was required to determine the quantities or operations needed.

The relationship between economy and literacy is a crucial and well documented relationship. In a Canada study close to 50% of adults with a low literacy lived in low-income households, compared with only 8% of adults with high literacy lived in high-level incomes. This clearly shows what low literacy is capable of doing to the economy of the country. Also during that study it found that the risk of living in a household below the poverty lines is six times greater for a person that is at level one than someone that is at level four or five.

It did say however the risk is significantly decreased from 50 percent to 22% if the level of literacy is increased from the first level to the second level. The other interesting fact is that women make about half of what men. This translates to all levels of literacy no matter what level of literacy it seems that women make about half of what the men make in that literacy level. If more of the population were literate it would increase the wealth of the entire nation. In conclusion it is clear that adult literacy is essential to the economics of modern nations.

Many are below literacy level and these effects the economics of a country because the low literacy directly affects the wealth of an individual thus effecting countries wealth. Bibliography 1. The Value of Words: Literacy and Economic Security in Canada, Vivian Shalla and Grant Schellenberg The Centre for International Statistics Canadian Council on Social Development 2. Literacy in a thousand words. Beatriz Pont and Patrick Werquin, Education and Training Division, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Published: November 2000 3. Hughes, Languages and writing from class.


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