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Friday, August 10, 2018

Microstory 905: Rising Literacy

I’m not much of a reader, which I recognize you’ll see as either a lie, or just plain bizarre. Despite my many hours of not reading, I obviously can read, and this is a trait that I take for granted. It wasn’t hard for me as a child to make the connection between spoken words, which I already knew, and writing skills. Of course that’s the alphabet, and of course that string of letters ultimately makes that sound, and carries that semantic meaning. Even if it didn’t come so easily for you—perhaps you were more into numbers—I bet you didn’t struggle all that much. People in developing countries are more likely to struggle to learn to read, but it’s nothing compared to the way thing were just centuries ago. Literacy was not all that common. It was reserved for noblemen, and often just men in general. Not only were educational opportunities hard to come by, and society looked down upon certain peoples learning certain skills, but there was also little point. They completed their menial labor, and that was all that was required of them. But people are seeing now the value in being able to read, regardless of one’s station, and that is something to be celebrated. But that’s not to say we have reached some goal. There are still tens of millions of adults, in this country alone, who are considered illiterate. They are easily forgotten, as education tends to focus on children. Please note that simply knowing the alphabet does not mean you count as literate. The threshold is formulated by a group of academics smarter than me that you can research on your own. We still have a long way to go, but I did want to take a minute to show that progress is possible, and is happening.

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