By David C. Lehr | For The Times-Post
International Literacy Day is an international observance that is celebrated annually on Sept. 8.
The day was officially declared by UNESCO on Oct. 26, 1966. The first International Literacy Day was celebrated on Sept. 8, 1967.
The Aim of International Literacy Day is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
It serves as a reminder that literacy is a matter of dignity and human rights and advances the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide under the theme, “Promoting literacy for a world in transition: building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies.”
According to UNESCO, despite progress across the world, literacy challenges persist with 763 million young people and adults lacking in basic literacy skill.
Indiana Literacy reports 21 million people in the United States cannot read at all, and 45 million who read at less than a fourth-grade level. That is about one out of five persons, or 20%.
Based on a county population of 103,000 adults, it is estimated that 17,000 to 20,000 adults in Madison County cannot read above a fourth-grade level.
Studies have shown that students whose parents have poor literacy skill are more likely to have low academic achievement, including low literacy scores. Studies have also shown that students who have mothers who read to them as children have higher literacy skills. Thus, the need for programs that teach adults literacy skills will have an impact on the literacy skills of students still in school.
Low literacy skills become cyclical with low literacy skill parents having children who have low literacy skills, who then have children with low literacy skills and on into the future.
Much attention has been paid to the problems of low literacy rates among children in Indiana over the last several years, but much less attention has been paid to low literacy rates among adults. It is imperative that the cycle be broken, and one tool in that effort is raising the literacy skills of adults.
A great deal of attention in Indiana and Madison County has been paid to workforce preparation, with workforce agencies offering classes for High School Equivalency examinations, job preparation, resumés and other job-related skills.
However, without literacy skills it is next to impossible for a potential job applicant to participate in that training. It is said, “Learn to read, to read to learn.”
Madison County Literacy Center is a part of the international effort to raise adult literacy rates and by extension literacy rates of children by offering free literacy tutoring to adults in the county.
The literacy center offers tutoring in reading, writing, spelling and other basic life skills.
In order to achieve the goal of raising literacy rates among adults in Madison County dedicated, trained volunteers give their time and talent to provide tutoring to adult learners.
The literacy center is looking for volunteer tutors.
A tutor must be 18 years of age and have a high school diploma.
Tutoring is done on a one-on-one basis.
Tutors are trained and then matched with a student.
Tutors are asked to commit to one year of tutoring, at least one day per week, one hour per tutoring session.
If you love to read and would love to give the gift of reading to someone who cannot read, please contact the literacy center to volunteer.
The literacy center is also looking for adult learners. Not being able to read carries a stigma, often results in embarrassment and humiliation, and can lead to depression.
It is often difficult for non-readers to admit their lack of literacy skills and seek reading help.
Many skilled readers know someone who needs help with reading.
The literacy center encourages those who know non-readers to assist and refer them to the center.
A learner must be 18 years old, a resident of the county, and speak and understand English.
The Madison County Literacy Center will mark International Literacy Day, Friday Sept. 8, by holding registration events for tutors and learners at the Center, 501 W. Eighth St., Anderson, and at The Alexandria-Monroe Public Library, The Elwood Public Library, The Ralph E. Hazelbaker Library in Summitville and Pendleton Community Public Library. Hours for registration will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call the literacy center at 765-641-0117 and speak to Ann, or 765-278-0398 and speak to David.
David C. Lehr is community outreach coordinator for Madison County Literacy Coalition.