A-B-C... W-O-R-K

by ADaydreamingWallflower on March 8, 2016 - 12:00am

Serious problems are all around the world. Some of them like the environment or the poverty are more important than loosing a hockey game or braking a IPhone. We are so stuck with our own belly button that we can not see what is outside and owe us to understand it even for a minute.

First of all, lets see how serious the problem is.

Catherine Lévesque, in an article of the Huffington Post about the illiteracy in Quebec, wrote that 19% of the Quebecers can’t read nor write. Likewise, more than 50% “have difficulty understanding the meaning of a 300 word article from the Journal de Montréal”. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, a book written by Betty Hart, Todd R. Risley and Lois Bloom demonstrates that young people of four years old or more coming from wealthier family learned over 30 million more words than children coming from poorer family. Unfortunately, “resources are more and more scarce due to cut backs imposed by the provincial government”.

In an article from the Independent in England, in January 2016, Eleanor Ross wrote about the OECD that established in a report that “English teens ha[ve] the lowest literacy rates”. The paper evaluates that “nine million people of working age [have] low literacy or numeracy skills”.  The report concluded that “England has a large university system relative to a poorly skilled pool of potential entrants” which could be the main cause of the issue.                                                                                                                                          Another interesting case is the Kent jail in England. They have created a “university-like campus” to allow the prisoner to get education. “The end game is not to produce better -prisoners, but better citizens” as Eric Allison wrote in his article for the Guardian. It is hard to help with limited financial resources where “Education budgets […] have been cut by almost a quarter since 2010, accentuated under former justice secretary Chris Grayling”, according to the author.  

Contrarily to the other countries in this piece, Singapore does absolutely not have any problems about illiteracy. According to the article of Tash Aw, a contributor Op-Ed writer in the New York Times, Singapore “tackled the high levels of illiteracy it had in the 1960s [and] now heads the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s global schools rankings”. Because criticized about its rigidity, Singapore created an artistic experiment. They built a new National Gallery to educate their visitor. The expositions show the origins of Singapore and Southeast Asia and even contemporary subjects like religion, nudity or sexual content. Therefore, Singapore is not only known for its good students, but also for its impressive collection of arts.

Larbi Arbaoui wrote in 2014 a really interesting article for the Morocco World News. It stipulates that 53% of Moroccan women can’t read nor write. Moreover, it mentions that rural women are more affected than urban women. In the urban areas 71.8% are illiterate in comparison to 40% in the urban areas. This difference is mostly due because women who lives in rural areas started working at the age of 15 years old. The thing is, in rural areas, women and men and children are poorer than in the city and have to start working young which privates them from going to school longer. This is the reality of the developing countries.

In 2014, “India ha[d] the highest population of illiterate adults”. This sentence was written in an article of The Hindu. The article was based on The 2013/14 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. It proclaimed that 37 percent of the large population of India were illiterate adults. Illiteracy rate gained 15 percent between 1991 and 2006, which is enormous. Again, this is mostly due to the disparities of wealth throughout the population.

One day after the publication of the first article, 29 of January, another paper was published by the same newspaper. Contrarily to the first one, this one shows what the UNESCO report says about the situation. It mentioned that, even with the previous weak data about literacy, “India features among the countries likely to achieve the pre-primary enrolment target of at least 70 per cent by 2015”. “Similarly, India is in the top bracket of countries likely to achieve [it] of at least 95 per cent by 2015”. Obviously, even if India invested a remarkable amount in its education, “India […] has reduced its expenditure on education from 13 per cent of the entire government budget in 1999 to 10 per cent in 2010”, according to the report.

As a result to these facts, some of the governments took things in hand and found solution to the illiteracy issue.

As the subject of the literacy around the world is not a current subject, it is hard to find relevant article about it. Unfortunately, the article written by Catherine Lévesque only shows us how desperate the situation is. Not that this is unacceptable. Also, Quebec is not a country as the other texts concerned here are from which could explain the lack of information about the issue.

Luckily for the England the arrival of Michael Gove has the Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath changed everything. The report from the OECD shows that “conditions were likely to improve with Michael Gove’s reforms to keep children in education until the age of 18 [in 2012]” as written by Ross.  “A government spokesperson told The Mirror that ‘Good English and maths skills are essential to success in later life, and thanks to our reforms thousands more students are leaving education with these vital skills’”. It seems like that students are in good hand with Mr. Gove.      

It is good news for the prison of Kent, because in October 2015, Michael Gove told that he was planning a review on the funds attributed to the jail. The prime minister, on the other hand, proclaimed that he would protect the £130m prison education budget. “Swaleside, with 1,100 inmates, is the first prison to create a university-like campus, the Open Academy [created by Malcolm Whitelaw]” wrote the journalist. One of the inmates, Anton, testified “Years done and more to do. I was going nowhere. Now I feel so much a part of this project and am thinking, if I can do this in here, how much more can I do when I am free?” “The end game is not to produce better -prisoners, but better citizens” as Allison wrote.

Similar in a way with the Quebec, Singapore does not have much more information about how to solve its illiteracy problem, but it is not for the same reasons as Quebec. Singapore does not really need to improve its literacy condition, because it is an example for most countries around.

The government of Morocco did something that should encourage other countries to do the same. “[They] launched many literacy programs in cooperation with the European Union and various NGOs during the past decade”. This attempt helped a lot the Moroccan illiteracy issue, as we could see, most the beneficiaries were the women living in rural areas as they occupied 80% of the beneficiaries.

The report of the GMR (Global Monitoring report) was not wrong. The plan of the Indian government about “the learning crisis has been attributed to the ambitious curriculum drawn out for children in India; including disadvantaged learners”. Thus, it means that India will not leave besides those in need. Moreover, “The report pointed out that India’s curriculum ‘outpaces what pupils can realistically learn and achieve in the time given’”. Now, we just have to wait and watch what will happen and see if we can help.

It seems that the major and principal cause of the rise of illiteracy is not the inability of the population to learn how to read and write, but a question of economy. Therefore, should it be advantageous to invest in education? “According to economist Pierre Fortin, a one per cent increase in literacy country-wide would lead to a $32 billion increase in Canadians' total revenue”, Catherine Lévesque mentioned in her article. This is not sad at all. 


References list

Lévesque, Catherine. “Illiteracy In Quebec Becoming A Massive Problem In The Province”. Huffpost. Huffington Post, 8 September 2015. Web. 18 February. 2016.


Ross, Eleanor. “English teenagers are among some of the least educated in the developed world, a report reveals.” Independent. Independent, 29 January 2016. Web. 18 February. 2016.


Allison, Eric. “Prison no bar to higher education as university ‘campus’ opens in Kent jail”. The Guardian. The Guardian, 22 February 2016. Web. 3 March. 2016.


Aw, Tash. “Singapore’s Artistic Experiment” The New York Times. The New York Times, 9 February, 2016. Web. 18 February. 2016.


Arbaoui, Larbi. “Morocco: One in Every Two Women is illiterate.” Morocco World News. Morocco World News, 19 March 2014. Web. 26 February. 2016.


“India tops in adult illiteracy: U.N. report.” The Hindu. The Hindu, 29 January 2014. Web. 26 February. 2016.



“India’s illiterate population largest in the world, says UNESCO report.” The Hindu. The Hindu, 30 January 2014. Web. 28 February. 2016.