ILLITERACY AS A SOCIAL PROBLEM AND THE ROLE OF SCHOOL IN REVERSING THE SITUATION

The social dimension

It is almost impossible for a literate person to imagine the social life of human groups without written language. In order to form society, it is essential to talk with people. This, in turn, makes room for a social necessity: communication.

Our society requires us to be literate, which implies not only a set of abilities, like learning to read and write, but also to be able to express and argument a point of view, to make connections, compare, interpret, reflect, and think critically, among other things.

All this knowledge allows us to take part in all fields of life: political, democratic, educational, social and economic. Considering the criteria mentioned above, illiterate people cannot become part of the society.

A social problem: illiteracy

After the release of the statistics realized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1976, which stated that there were over 800 million illiterate people in the world, it was suggested that affected countries include alphabetization in their national development plans, in which both adults and children were to be included.

In adults, it was necessary to fill in the gaps, while children had to be prevented from becoming illiterate.

The most important aspect is that UNESCO recognized the failure of previous educational campaigns, stating that if the situation didn’t change, the 21st century would find a largely illiterate world.

Illiteracy has its roots in several factors, such as:

– The socio-economical dimension

– The difference between the advanced urban areas and the underdeveloped rural ones

– The socio-educational difference

– Unsolved ethnic and cultural problems

– Low standards of living (caused by global poverty or poor distribution of the available resources)

As Jose Rivero states, “…it is no coincidence that over 98% of the illiterate population lives in the poorest areas and societies of the world.”

Illiterate people have entered a vicious cycle, in which they are rejected because they cannot read or write, and cannot learn these skills either, because they have been excluded. However, it is worth mentioning that there are – although rare – programs of study meant to solve these problems.

The research has brought light over the dark side of illiteracy. The issue of school failure and dropout was already related not only to social and familial problems, or individual pathology, but also it was admitted that the problem was often caused by factors regulated by the educational system.

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