Causes Of Illiteracy

What Causes Illiteracy?


In the technologically advanced world that we live in now, there are no good reasons or causes of illiteracy. It is a problem that should be addressed by all, as lack of reading and writing skills will affect an individual throughout their lifetime.


There was a time in the early days of civilization that the need to read and write was not as vital as it is today.  Smaller populations that were far apart geographically negated the need for this type of communication.  People fended for themselves in just about every way, and jobs were often simply working at home to scrape together their own living. Children were needed to work on the farms or in the homes, meaning that education was deemed not to be important. As the population grew and technology advanced, people were still able to get by in the world without these skills since most jobs were manual labor, but the need for reading and writing skills were growing among the general population.  Of course, in today’s world it is virtually impossible to get anywhere in life without these valuable communication skills.


The leading causes for illiteracy in the world are learning disabilities, poverty and cultural influences.  Determining why an individual is illiterate will require an investigation into their daily lifestyle, their heritage and their background.


Neurologically based learning disabilities can account for many cases of illiteracy; considered to be hidden handicaps because they are not evident by appearance.  A disorder that affects the ability of an individual to interpret what is seen or heard or the ability to associate information from different areas of the brain, a learning disability is something that is often kept secret by the individual who endures it.  It is often a condition that remains undiagnosed for several years because the child learns how to disguise the affects.  Generally it is unable to remain hidden by the time the child reaches the second or third grade as this is the time that major advancements in reading and math are made.  Dealing with these disabilities can be difficult, as it requires specialized one on one education to overcome them; an expense that many school districts are unable or unwilling to bear.  However, these disabilities can certainly be overcome and to do so will allow the child to develop normally from that point forward into a self-sufficient and productive member of society.


There are no definite links between poverty and illiteracy and yet it is often the underlying cause in many undeveloped countries.  Poor communities have meager funds with which can be applied toward teaching staff, books and materials to educate their children.  Families that are underprivileged lack appropriate clothing, resources for transportation and sources for regular meals that would enable their children to attend school.  Frequently, children can be found begging for money on city streets; an activity that keeps their families fed but also keeps the child from becoming educated.  This factor leads to the next of the most common causes of illiteracy; cultural influences.


Children learn behaviors from those around them; modeling their own desires and goals from the people with which they associate.  Parents who enjoy reading and do so as a form of enjoyment on their own set a wonderful example for their children, who will seek to be like those they identify with most.  These parents generally begin reading to their children at a very young age, setting the stage for the eager development of literacy skills.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, parents with little education and no reading skills of their own will not have the knowledge to pass on to their young; extending another generation of illiteracy.


In a world where computers are standard equipment in every home, there should be no reason that these causes of illiteracy should exist.  It is only through the education of the population that advancements in civilization can occur, and literacy is the first boundary to cross.