“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination. Not only is literacy a basic human right, it is a fundamental building block for learning as well as a personal empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress.” (from http://internationalliteracyday.org/ )
International Literacy Day was held on 8 September 2015. It is a good time to remember that some people have difficulty with the following:
- reading a medicine label
- filling out a job application form
- reading a bank statement
- understanding government policies and processes
- assisting their children with their homework
- and so much more.
When I trained as a literacy tutor I found out that nearly 50% of Australians struggle to read well enough to meet the complex demands of everyday life. This can impact on their independence, physical and mental health and their job prospects. No small matter!
People with low literacy levels can become adept at hiding their problems by making excuses about forgetting to bring their glasses or asking other people to help them. They may scribble words they cannot spell to disguise it. I confess I do this sometimes as well!
When I lived in the Kimberley region of Western Australia I worked with adult Aboriginal women who were keen to learn English. They could converse in their own language but English wasn’t their first language.
It was a watershed moment for me at Election time. I realized how vulnerable they were to being duped into voting for someone who did not represent their best interests. This was when I realised the relationship between literacy, power and equality.
This prompted me to advocate on the need for access to literacy skills to empower people to make their own decisions for their own best interests.