All of us writing blogs and reading the blogs of others on this site, not to mention reading magazines and books and other websites and subtitles and road signs and even obnoxious billboards, might have forgotten a time when we could not read and write. In honor and respect of the joy we all obtain from reading and writing, my third quote, goaded forth from me by Julie, is:
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895)
I had hoped to report on global literacy rates but found that the available data are under-reported, reported sporadically, or not reported by many governments. Data from 2010 – the year in which the most data was reported recently for the largest number of countries, literacy rates ranged from 25.1% (Guinea) to 99.8% (Azerbaijan). The average literacy rate for all of us is about 86%, with males at 90% and females at 83%, but again, these data are incomplete; it is, therefore, an unknown what the actual average may be.
Interpreting the data may lead to an inappropriate conclusion as well. If one of us were to get a 90% or 86% or 83% on a really difficult exam we might feel relieved but people who cannot read – and who knows how many that really is – learn by oral tradition and probably will not attend school and take exams and become competitive in the world of technologies and international negotiations. They may have a full life still but don’t we all have a secret wish that everyone could read and write? It may not be obvious but literacy affects health; if a patient cannot read materials provided by a physician or read the label on a prescription, the effort to regain health may be for naught.
In an earlier post today I noted that those of us who can help should consider doing so. Improving literacy is a worthy area to help this big old planet out. What if the whole world blogged with us?