Literacy leads to a better life
Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2015
For most, reading is a daily part of life. Getting around on the interstate, filling out paperwork and surfing the Internet all require a skill most people learned at a young age.
However, for many who grew up in an age where parents made the decision to send their children to work instead of school to make ends meet their education was cut short.
That’s where adult literacy programs can fill the gap. However, there are limited resources for people willing to learn.
One such program is the HOPE Adult Learning Center. While the program does not have a location in Pearl River County, their office serves this county, said Director Donna Daulton.
She spoke to members of the Picayune Exchange Club Wednesday and shared some statistics that reflect the importance of being able to read.
“Illiteracy is linked to the most pressing issues of our country,” Daulton said.
Adults who can’t read are 30 to 40 percent less likely to earn as much as an adult that can. Additionally, they are more likely to have trouble communicating effectively.
Of the population receiving welfare benefits, 90 percent are high school dropouts.
Adults who are not functional readers also have poor hygiene, employ less health care prevention methods and have a greater risk of diseases, Daulton said.
Overall they cost the system about $73 billion annually.
Adults who have not learned to read are also less likely to provide their children with books to read and thereby less likely to promote reading and learning.
Between 60 to 70 percent of the country’s inmates read at a third grade level or less, Daulton said.
She said that if an inmate learns to read they are 70 percent less likely to return to jail.
A functional reading level is considered to be seventh grade.
To help fill the gap, HOPE provides people with one-on-one instruction through volunteer tutors at public locations.
Daulton said the organization is looking for volunteers to mentor adults who can’t read.
Typically tutors work with people about two times a week for an hour or two each session.
One of the requirements to become a volunteer is to sign a statement of faith and fill out a tutor registration form that entails a $35 fee. The statement of faith is required because HOPE is a faith-based organization.
“We want to introduce them to God to have life eternal,” Daulton said.
People who want to learn to read will need to commit to work with their tutor for a year, but do not need to sign a statement of faith, Daulton said. However, the volunteers will use the Bible and the Barton Reading and Spelling System. Daulton said between 80 to 95 percent of instruction comes from the Barton system, with the remainder coming from the Bible. Although, students are not required to learn about the Bible or Christianity, Daulton said.
Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, vice president for Pearl River Community College’s economic and community development, said the college offers an adult literacy program as part of their GED program.