Why Is Literacy Important?


“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society” – Kofi Afnan.

As kids, all of us have wondered – what is the point of being able to read, write, and speak proficiently? But when adulthood hits us, we realize that we aren’t living in the stone age anymore. The world is progressing very fast, and anyone who fails to maintain the pace is left behind in society.

Now, how would you describe progress? Well, economic growth is an appropriate way to paint the picture. And how do we enhance the economy? It’s when everyone is keen on acquiring higher levels of literacy. 

As more and more people take a step forward to learn higher educational skills, thousands of new job opportunities are created, which benefits everyone in the end.

Yet, many wonder – why is literacy important? Okay, let’s take a quick trip to explore the significance of literacy and education in our society, layer by layer.

What is literacy?

Let’s start with the basics before we get into the nitty-gritty. So, what does literacy stand for? Well, it’s commonly referred to as the efficiency to view, write, read, speak, and listen in a certain way that enables you to communicate effectively. However, that’s debatable.

Why Is Literacy Important

So, what is literacy? As Nelson Mandela has quoted, “Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world.” On that note, literacy is certainly beyond the ability to read or write. It’s more about how skilled an individual can be at utilizing these acquired abilities to address the challenges of the society in which they reside.

As times are changing, the educational repertoire of an average student is going through a robust development. Plus, with the emergence of the digital era, acquiring sufficient literary skills isn’t as hard as it was thirty years ago. So, why is literacy promoted actively? Why is it important?

Why is literacy important?

Kofi Afnan had beautifully said, “It [Literacy] is a bulwark against poverty and a building block of development.” And as we’ve mentioned earlier, an economy can develop only when a circle of literate heads supports it. So, the higher the literacy rate, the higher the employment opportunities in the market. And if there are more and more opportunities for individuals to earn, the economy will flourish.

If you’ve read “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform,” released by NCEE in 1983, you know that proper literacy is an issue that America has always struggled with. Sufficient steps to literacy haven’t been taken by individuals, which has resulted in this drastic situation in our society.

Surveys have revealed that around 18% of the 15-year old US citizens are considered weak in terms of literacy skills. Also, as per the US Dept. of Education, a total of 47 million US citizens lack the necessary functional literacy skills, including reading/writing and comprehensive elementary skills. But, the worst part here is that every consecutive week, an average of 44,000 names are added to the list.

So, why do people need to prioritize educating themselves? Well, let’s have a quick peek at some of the significant changes that can be brought in the world with a higher literacy rate.

The political impact of literacy

Literacy is inarguably one of the main pillars upon which democracy stands strong. As more and more people choose to participate in acquiring literacy skills, the public will be actively indulged in political participation, leading towards a healthy democratic society.

Why Is Literacy Important

In other words, the more one educates themselves, the more likely they are to appear for voting. When in a democracy, voting is the most considerable freedom handed to the citizens, which they are known to avoid because of a lack of education.

Educated people have a rich history of raising their voices against the wrongdoings of corrupt governmental structures. Literacy also includes being familiar with the fundamental democratic values, so once you sense that it’s being violated, you can take a step forward to bring about a positive change.

Furthermore, education amongst the disadvantaged minorities can also introduce them to a world of endless possibilities and help the ethnic groups to protect their rights. Moreover, literacy programs have also proven to be one of the best post-conflict measures. So, by far, we can agree that literacy is indeed an astounding weapon to counter the intricacies of the world.

The socio-economic impact of literacy

Most of the criminal activities that happen are merely desperate attempts by specific individuals to survive in this economy. Did you know that 6 out of 10 prisoners in the States lack elementary literacy skills? They can’t afford to make ends meet with a regular job, because there isn’t any income opportunity for someone who isn’t sufficiently educated.

Now, it’s also highly likely that their communities/families are struggling to survive while they are imprisoned. Furthermore, an average American taxpayer has to pay for the maintenance of prisons indirectly, so who is it benefitting in the end?

Even if an insufficiently educated person manages to find a job, it takes them twice the average efforts required to get a raise/promotion, and that too isn’t guaranteed. This way, the employment mobility of an illiterate is at an all-time low, and so is their financial stability. It becomes harder for such people to provide for their families, and it leads to extreme conditions that call for desperate measures.

Furthermore, the number of infant mortality is at an all-time high because people aren’t financially capable of enjoying proper healthcare. Also, illiteracy is the crucial reason why people aren’t engaging in regulated reproductive activities and seeking proper medical attention. For instance, various communities in our society are still unaware of the effectiveness of contraception, a safe medical practice that can reduce these depressing cases single-handedly.

Teaching reading in the 21st century

It’s imperative for us, as individuals, to encourage more and more people to opt for proper education. If you’re an aspiring teacher, you have to keep yourself updated with the fundamentals of teaching, as it keeps evolving with time. So, if you’re planning to start teaching reading in the 21st century, these are the few points you have to consider.

Why Is Literacy Important

Do not underestimate the importance of re-reading

Re-reading, probably the most underrated educational technique, is being established as a significant instructional method to promote proper education. As per expert opinion, re-reading encourages the idea of in-depth analysis and critical thinking, which are integral parts of literacy.

Teachers across the world have agreed that once their students are told to re-read, it sets a distinctive purpose from the initial phase of reading. This helps them in learning the fundamental points that they might have missed out on before. Furthermore, it can enhance meta-comprehension accuracy, due to which it’s also known as intensive reading.

Include digital texts to educate the students

We can’t deny that the digital age is taking over the traditional educational practices, and it’s more convenient to educate by including digital textbooks. It’s also proven to provide the students with a higher reading edge. The more digital practices are covered, the more the low-performing candidates tend to find education interesting.

Furthermore, various institutes are including literacy apps that make learning a lot more fun for students. This move is renowned as a best practice that encourages personalization of learning and increment of instructional time. Furthermore, digital learning is a significant way of catering to the individual needs of the students, which is why educational institutions are adapting to it quickly.

Literacy has no room for syntax errors

The role of proper grammar in literacy is imperative, considering that it helps in strengthening comprehension precisely. On that note, studies have shown that although grammar wasn’t prioritized as a best practice ten years ago, it is now. 

Further research has proven that there’s a deep connection between syntactic awareness and the reading skills of students. Higher knowledge in grammar helps one identify the modifiers, punctuate correctly, and construct better sentences, strengthening their writing skills. So, syntactic awareness helps one have a better grasp of numerous areas of literacy, which speaks volumes about its importance.

Our final words

Honestly, if we sit down to enlist the reasons why education is vital in our society, it’ll never end. As the world progresses, the need for literacy keeps getting more crucial. So, if you want to keep up, grab a book.

That being said, we hope that we could help you have a better understanding of why literacy is important. Are there some crucial points that you’d like to add to this conversation? Please let us know in the comments section below!

We’ll meet you soon with more interesting articles to help you learn more about this mysterious world we live in.

Till then, stay tuned!