Alan Archer: Celebrate the importance of literacy
In the United States, more than 36 million adults do not read, write or perform basic math above the third-grade level, and tens of millions additional are at the elementary and middle school skill levels. People emigrating to the U.S. need to speak English in order to integrate. Without good skills, natural-born and immigrant alike are faced with the inability to compete for adequate jobs with which to raise their families. Low literacy skills are a “root cause” of unemployment, poverty, welfare and crime.
More than 700 million adults around the world are illiterate, two-thirds of them are women, and 60 million children are not in school, have dropped out, or are attending irregularly.
But International Literacy Day, which is Sept. 8 each year, isn’t solely aimed at those people with low literacy skills. The goal of this observance is to reinforce the importance of the spoken and written word to everyone for every subject.
Because of the importance of literacy in everyday life, many authors, such as Toni Morrison, and Amy Tan, along with private companies, such as Dollar General and Verizon — and service organizations, such as Lion Clubs International and Rotary International, plus many more, support the push for literacy.
In a world of increasing technological advancement, literacy cannot be overstated. To communicate through the written and spoken word are necessary skills, and, beyond that, a basic human right that ensures each individual and the community they live in will have the essential tools to succeed in life. And for those who are literate, it’s not enough to speak, read and write. We must do them well. Whatever the profession, speaking, reading and writing well can only elevate success within it. Whatever the relationship, the ability to communicate our unique stories and perspectives strengthen it. Though technology advances, the need to speak, write and read will never be outdated.
Two local organizations assist people in obtaining the skills needed to speak, read and write English:
Partners in English Language Learning (PiELL) offers free individualized language instruction for non-English speaking adult residents of western Nevada County. Trained tutors meet students one-on-one at a time and place that is mutually convenient. Interested tutors and students may contact PiELL at 530-265-2116, email email@example.com or visit http://www.piell.org.
Read Up Literacy Service at the Nevada County Library offers free, confidential one-on-one tutoring for English speaking Nevada County adults by trained volunteer tutors to improve their reading and writing of English. The student and tutor select a convenient day/time/location to meet weekly. Non-English speakers in the Truckee area can receive tutoring in speaking English.
Alan Archer is the director of “Read Up” for the Nevada County Library, and serves on the board of Directors of Partners for English Language Learning.
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