Childhood Illiteracy

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Literacy and Illiteracy

Literacy is described as the capacity to use written and oral material to work in society and transfer ideas with the intent of achieving one's goals and expanding one's knowledge. Illiteracy, on the other hand, is the failure to read or write sentences or plain words in any language. On the other hand, functional illiteracy is described as having insufficient writing and reading skills to work in society and in some jobs that include reading and writing above the basic level. Any people are completely illiterate, meaning they cannot read or write in any way. Illiteracy among children is a widespread problem in the world's poorest countries. Illiteracy poses a significant threat to the future education and development of a country. The purpose of my paper is to persuade parents, teachers, and students to combine efforts in ensuring that children write and read proficiently in their early stages of development to attack children illiteracy.

Gender Bias and Illiteracy

According to recent statistics in the United Nation's World Education Report, almost one-quarter of the world’s population between 15 years of age and adulthood cannot read. Women account for 65% of the globe’s illiterate population (Alamprese, MacArthur and Price 161). Gender bias is a significant contributor to illiteracy. In most cases, male children are usually given the priority in matters education while the female child is tasked with carrying out house chores. Such abominable biases and beliefs restrict the growth of literacy and sharply skewed the ratio of literate females to males in the country. This is bound to have a dramatically negative impact on society and productivity. Women need to have more highly specialized programs which will contribute to their lifestyles. The campaign to enlighten the entire population on adverse implications of illiteracy should be widespread. Programs that contribute more to the public understanding of the nature of literacy and its importance to the family and especially women should be made accessible for every individual.

Low-Income Students and Illiteracy

Moreover, national statistics show that 83% of low-income students are below proficient on the National Assessment Progress reading test and 49% are below basic level (Wagner 752). Such children are at risk of failing to graduate on time because they will not be proficient readers. In today’s society, illiteracy leads to joblessness and a greater chance of incarceration. Knowing names of letters and the sounds they represent at the early stages of schooling is the strongest solution to children illiteracy. Understanding the difference between pictures and print on a page will aid these children in the process of learning how to read. Children’s ability to detect rhyme will facilitate reading hence promote literacy because rhyming enables children to make use of analogy as they learn to read unfamiliar words. Knowledge of names of letters and sounds will make children proficient in reading by their fourth grade.

The Importance of Literacy for a Nation

A higher literacy rate is essential for any nation to bring it at par on a global platform with other countries. Nations do not look promising if they have a stable economic growth rate but poor literacy rates. In our society, people reject modern education as a threat to their beliefs and way of life. Consequently, children of such households do not manage to learn in the contemporary world schools that open their minds to better ideologies (Abar and Loken). Creating awareness and convincing these sections of our society to open their eyes to education is the only way to curb illiteracy and rid people such ignorance. Not only the government but the entire humanity needs to acknowledge the importance of eliminating childhood illiteracy.

Illiteracy and Crime

Ignorance promotes a high level of criminal behavior. In the juvenile courts, nearly 85% of minors facing trials are illiterate. It shows that there is a relatively close relationship between illiteracy and crime. In developed countries, the degree of functional illiteracy among children and other individuals is proportional to their level of income and inversely proportional to the risk of committing a crime. For instance, in the United States, two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by fourth grade have a higher possibility of engaging in criminal activities. Fostering a love of early learning will ensure children’s success in school and life because it will enable them to stay on track developmentally and grow as readers and learners. On the other hand, schools should be in the capacity to ensure that all students reach the recommended literacy levels to enable them to comprehend the basic texts and documents. Through this, the society’s basic literacy will be boosted.

Job Opportunities and Illiteracy

Another problem of illiteracy is the loss of job opportunities in the marketplace. Without a job people must rely on unemployment and social assistance to survive, welfare and Medicare. In companies and business centers, losses are attributed to illiteracy among workers. They lack the necessary skills to meet current market requirements. Research finds that functional illiteracy and deficiency of essential competencies in the business leads to low productivity (Thaler 11). Providing levels of remedial training for children and some of the company workers will help solve illiteracy. Through these, workers will be able to compare and compute costs, analyze and interpret tables and observe and compare viewpoints.

Social Evils and Illiteracy

Globally, social evils such as child labor, child marriage, and the caste system are some cases of children denied the basic primary education. Child labor is rampant among low-income families who aim to increase their household income through child Labor. Caste system is an ugly element yet to be shaken by orthodox Hindu communities (Maqbool 29). Among the Hindu, children are denied entry into schools on the grounds of caste and social standing, those from lower ranks were forced to live separately outside the main village. Such segregation of humanity contributes to civic illiteracy. Engaging parents and communities will provide a solution to this problem. Families and relatives need to attack illiteracy through creating awareness. On the other hand, implementation of active community and parent based literacy activities will enable families and parents attack ignorance.

Emigration and Literacy

In today’s globalized world, emigration is increasing steadily. Individuals decide to stay overseas on account of better working conditions and higher compensations. The outflux of such educated people creates a negative impact on the literacy rates of our country, lowering it further. Therefore, as far as civic illiteracy is concerned, emigration of educated individuals is detrimental to the improvement of educational statistics in the country. Camp reading can be a solution to children illiteracy (Batalova and Fix 522). Campers should be given one on one tutoring daily, read books at the camp, make crafts associated with the books, play literacy games and write journals and diaries. Camping is useful in solving child illiteracy. Through the camping activities, children will improve their confidence, reading skills, demeanor, and positive thinking. A world literacy day can also be introduced. It will serve to remind students, teachers, and parents that they ensure literacy in childhood. For its efficiency, it must have a deadline. Children must become efficient in either one or more scripts latest by age 18 to reduce illiteracy.

Poverty and Illiteracy

A huge portion of our population lives below the poverty line. Such people do not have access to basic requirements of essential commodities for themselves or their families. According to this population, education is a luxury which they cannot afford. Studies show that over 70% of Americans inmates cannot read above a 4th-grade level (Berkeley, Mastropieri and Scruggs 23). Nevertheless, teenage girls between 16 to 19 years who live at or below the poverty line have below average literacy skills. A significant population of a country is deprived education because it is poor. More children need to be educated on the problem of illiteracy. Programs should be made workable and accessible to them. Providing children with all programs will create a positive trend for this population. The programs help in breaking poverty cycles through eliminating ignorance among the illiterate children.

Attitude Towards Learning

Additionally, attitude towards learning contributes effectively to illiteracy amongst children. Certain sections of people especially children look down upon education and regard it with contempt. They claim that building a scholarly mind is of no use. Research has shown that low-income households are against encouragements of schooling of children at tender ages since some of these parents wish to engage the kids in labor activities. In the United States, children and roughly 14% of adults are unable to perform simple literacy activities (Thaler 53). Governments should ensure that all the youth and a substantial proportion of adults both men and women achieve literacy and numeracy. On the other hand, progress should be made in literacy outcomes by developing impactful and profitable programs. Adapting programs for multiple languages should also be adopted because they play a critical and casual role in the ordinary acquisition of literacy.

Geographical Factors and Illiteracy

Literacy is essential to tackling a broad range of significant development. However, geographical factors contribute to the illiteracy rate. Families living in remote locations like in the arid desert lands are often cut off from mainstream civilization and all convenient facilities of education. Bringing them out of such areas and enlightening them on the importance of education is a crucial measure. In some cases, it is advisable to try to teach the children in their remote locations so as to avoid any inconveniences. In such areas, teachers should tutor reading to children in schools. In their training, teachers should be instructed on effective reading skills that they pass on to students. Reading will help curb illiteracy in such remote areas because every child before going to the next grade will be able to read and write effectively.

Learning Disabilities and Illiteracy

Learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dysorthography lead to illiteracy in both children and adults (Torppa, Lyytinen and Erskine 310). Children with different disabilities usually find it exceedingly difficult to read, write, absorb and remember information. Physical disabilities also inhibit illiteracy, for instance, a blind child will find it difficult to understand without assistance. Donors, NGOs and development agencies could help solve this problem by ensuring all their education interventions assess the impact on literacy acquisition and commit to supporting National Illiteracy Action Plans. Such plans should identify and mobilize a broad range of individuals and institutions within a country that have a role to play in children’s literacy acquisition including parents and the community. Plans should include pre-primary and early grade reading and learning targets to ensure that all children especially the disabled learn to read with comprehension by the time they leave primary school.

Whole Language Activities and Illiteracy

Poor children have been affected by the replacement of traditional letter by letter methods with whole language activities. Regular letter by letter methods conformed to brain processes while whole language activities reflect common perceptions. Students of consistently spelled languages should learn sufficient reading earlier to avoid interruptions. Modern methods slow down the process of reading leaving students functionally illiterate and must therefore not be used. They, therefore, do badly at or drop out of school leading to illiteracy in most of them. Children who do not read proficiently by their third grade will drop out school. Therefore, a reading club should be started to help keep them and other peers reading. Moreover, developing effective approaches to reading assessment should be implemented by teachers and governments to enhance literacy.

Insufficient Funds and Illiteracy

Nevertheless, as the population increases, entry into the existing schools gets increasingly challenging, and majorities of the vast population are denied a chance to admit their children into schools owing to insufficient funds. More than 60% of low-income families cannot afford to have books in their homes (Alexander 253). Lack of books at home and low motivation on the importance of reading causes illiteracy among children and adults. Half of low-income fourth graders score below basic levels on United States literacy assessments. Better and more books should be distributed to students.

Parental Involvement and Illiteracy

Lastly, the reading process is universal. Illiterate parents do not have the reading and writing skills to reinforce them in their children. Teachers should come up with a National Literacy Action Plan, a comprehensive policy supported by sufficient investment and resources, which drives early grade reading across all sectors both in and out of school. High school students, as well as colleges, should donate a semester to helping the illiterate women and all who are illiterate. Through this, the high levels of childhood illiteracy will be tackled as informed mothers in an exposed society will never embrace ignorance in their young generations. Complex teaching activities should also be avoided so as to activate the perceptual learning function. Children should be taught letter by letter phonics, pattern analogies and give a lot of practice in class. Letters used must be large and spaced to accommodate the brain's visual demands. Letter to letter phonics enhances phonological sensitivity, ability to manipulate the sound structure of a language. Kids who are good at highlighting and manipulating syllables and phonemes have a higher likelihood of learning how to read and write.


Children's illiteracy should be brought into consideration to increase the literacy rate. This paper highlights some of the solutions to children's illiteracy such as providing more and better books to students, ensuring teachers teach reading, reading practices among others. Enabling every child to learn will help tackle inequalities by making sure that regardless of disability, gender, ethnicity, race or socioeconomic background, every child starts out with a basic skill set with which to take on life's challenges.

Works Cited


Abar B and Loken E. "Self-regulated learning and self-directed study in a pre-college sample." Learning and Individual Differences (2010): 25-29.

Alamprese, J, et al. "Effects of a structured decoding curriculum on adult literacy learner's reading development." Journal of Research on Education Effectiveness (2011): 154-172.

Alexander, R J. "Teaching and Learning for all? The quality imperative revisted." International Journal of Education and Development (2015): 250-259.

Batalova, J and M Fix. "A profile of limited English proficient adult immigrants." Peabody Journal of Education (2010): 511-534.

Berkeley, S, M A Mastropieri and T W Scruggs. "Reading Comprehension strategy instruction and attribution retraining for secondary students with learning and other mild disabilities." Journal of Learning Disabilities (2011): 18-32.

Berry, J M, et al. "Memory aging: Deficits beliefs, and interventions." Aging in America (2010): 255-299.

Lusardi, Annamaria and Olivia Mitchell. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education Programs." Journal of Financial Economics (2011): 449472.

Maqbool, Majid. Illiterate but in Love With Books. Srinagar: India Ink, 2014.

Rimrodt, S L, et al. "White matter Microstructural differences linked to left perisylvian language network in children with dyslexia." Cortex (2010): 739-749.

Thaler, Richard H. Financial Literacy, Beyond the Classroom. New York: The New York Times, 2013.

Torppa M, et al. "Language development, literacy skills and predictive connections to reading in Finnish children with or without familial risk for dyslexia." Journal of Learning Difficulties (2010): 308-321.

Wagner, D A. "Quality of education, comparability, and asessment choice in developing countries." A Journal of Comparative and International Education (2010): 741-760.

December 21, 2022

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