Illiteracy and the Cost to Individuals, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 622

Essay

According to author Jonathan Kozol, almost one-third of Americans cannot read nor write. They cannot read the headlines in a newspaper; they cannot read the instructions on a prescription drug bottle; they cannot read street signs; and they cannot read their own mail. One-third of Americans equals to about eighty million individuals. As Kozol points out, most of America’s illiterate citizens are white; however, taken as a whole, “the figures are higher for blacks and Hispanics” with about 44% of African Americans and 56% of Hispanics being either functionally or marginally illiterate. In addition, almost 20% of high school graduates that live in urban areas cannot read above the 6th grade level; more than one million American teenagers cannot read above the 3rd  grade level; and almost a staggering 90% of “juveniles who come before the courts are functionally illiterate” (“Illiterate America”).

According to a 2012 study by the World Literacy Foundation, complete illiteracy can be defined as when a person “cannot read or write at all,” while functional illiteracy refers to a person who possesses “basic reading, writing and numerical skills but cannot apply them to accomplish tasks” that are needed to make everyday choices and to participate in society (Cree, Kay, & Steward 3). For the individual person, the cost related to not being able to read and write is staggering, due to the fact that such a person cannot function in society, especially when employed in a job that requires reading and writing skills. This may help to explain why the majority of Americans who cannot read or write are employed as menial laborers, such as janitors, construction workers, grocery clerks, and other positions in which reading and writing is not necessarily a requirement of their job.

Some of the activities that an illiterate or functionally illiterate person may find difficult to do because of their inability to read and write includes voting in elections, due to being unable to read the voting ballots and to fill out forms that are necessary to vote in state and federal elections; using the Internet to purchase goods and services and to apply for things like Social Security and disability, due to not being able to use a keyboard or to read forms and instructions; using email to stay in touch with friends and family members and social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook; obtaining a higher education, due to an inability to fill out the required forms for admission, scholarships, and student loans, not to mention writing class assigned papers and homework; applying for a driver’s license or some other type of permit that would allow them to expand their employment horizons; and lastly, helping their children with homework and paying household bills (Cree, Kay, & Steward 3).

Certainly, one of the most important areas related to being unable to read and write is personal income or the ability to make a decent living in order to survive. As the World Literary Foundation points out, individuals who are completely illiterate or functionally illiterate earn almost 50% less than individuals who read and write; also, not having proper literacy skills greatly impacts an individual’s ability to “undertake further vocational education or training to improve their earning potential” (Cree, Kay, & Steward 4). Therefore, society itself is negatively affected by individuals who cannot read and write, especially related to participating fully in a democratic system that depends upon the abilities of its citizens to contribute to the advancement of a given society and how it operates.

Works Cited

Cree, Anthony, Kay, Andrew, and June Steward. “The Economic and Social Cost of Illiteracy: A Snapshot of Illiteracy in a Global Context.” World Literacy Foundation. 2012. Web. 7 December 2013. http://www.worldliteracyfoundation.org/The_Economic_&_Social_Cost_of_Illiteracy.pdf

Kozol, Jonathan. “Illiterate America.” 1990. Web. 7 December 2013. http://eserver.org/courses/spring97/76100o/readings/kozol.html

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Examples

Acquiring New Language, Essay Example

Introduction When it comes to becoming a part of the society I am living in, I realized how important it was to first embrace the [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1190

Essay

Things Fall Apart Diary, Essay Example

Okonkwo VS “Things Fall Apart”. As Okonkwo I am very determined. In Things Fall Apart, I am faced with a changing culture and how it [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 668

Essay

The Mission, Essay Example

Introduction The film of ‘The Mission’ was produced in 1986 and achieved the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 704

Essay

Nursing Home Regulations, Essay Example

Governing Body One of the primary concerns of any nursing home facility is assuring that the facility conforms to all local, state, and federal regulations, [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 614

Essay

1492 Through Louis XIV, Essay Example

An absolute monarchy is when a ruler is the only one in power. All the power is control by the absolute monarch in control of [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 5466

Essay

Accounting Information System-Cognos, Research Paper Example

Accounting Information System-COGNOS Business Case Application Presentation Problem Background H&E is a small Pizza Franchise that people in Albuquerque just love. This franchise-business started way [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1827

Research Paper

Acquiring New Language, Essay Example

Introduction When it comes to becoming a part of the society I am living in, I realized how important it was to first embrace the [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1190

Essay

Things Fall Apart Diary, Essay Example

Okonkwo VS “Things Fall Apart”. As Okonkwo I am very determined. In Things Fall Apart, I am faced with a changing culture and how it [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 668

Essay

The Mission, Essay Example

Introduction The film of ‘The Mission’ was produced in 1986 and achieved the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 704

Essay

Nursing Home Regulations, Essay Example

Governing Body One of the primary concerns of any nursing home facility is assuring that the facility conforms to all local, state, and federal regulations, [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 614

Essay

1492 Through Louis XIV, Essay Example

An absolute monarchy is when a ruler is the only one in power. All the power is control by the absolute monarch in control of [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 5466

Essay

Accounting Information System-Cognos, Research Paper Example

Accounting Information System-COGNOS Business Case Application Presentation Problem Background H&E is a small Pizza Franchise that people in Albuquerque just love. This franchise-business started way [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1827

Research Paper