Human Cost of an Illiterate Society Paper Requirements
I need the author to read the presentation https://prezi.com/b_ycat2a81ca/edit/?auth_key=d74s6ka&follow=bjts2acb3i_y and read the article by Jonathan Kozol on the human cost of an illiterate society.
Based on these two sources write the essay
The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society
The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society is an article by Jonathan Kozol describing the plight of illiterate people in society. The author perceives illiteracy as an added cost to the illiterate individuals themselves, their families and the society at large. According to a research carried out by the National Institute of Literacy, thirty million people in America cannot read a simple sentence, out of these, seven million are completely illiterate (Pierre, 2008). This is a clear indication that very many people are faced with challenges because of their inability to read and write. The article gives an account of the numerous challenges faced by illiterate people.
The author begins by describing a dream in which he finds himself in a foreign unfamiliar city where he is faced by a myriad of challenges. His inability to comprehend the foreign language renders him technically illiterate and therefore stranded in a railroad station. He imagines that this is the sort of predicament illiterate people find themselves in on a daily basis and goes ahead to enumerate the numerous challenges they face. Among the many challenges faced by illiterates is the inability to read menus in restaurants, prescriptions on drugs, health insurance forms, lease agreements and brand names of products in supermarkets. These challenges in most instances prove to be very frustrating and costly to illiterate people and their families.
Let us take an example of Monica Baxley, a 45-year-old woman who had been functionally illiterate for over three decades, she quit school in ninth grade but had managed to keep this fact a secret from her friends and family for the three decades because she could not bear the embarrassment. Her travel was limited because she could not read road signs, she could neither read a newspaper nor food labels in a supermarket. Moreover, she never voted in an election because she did not know who or what to vote for. She also avoided the hospital out of fear that she would have to fill out a medical form or read a prescription; she admits that her health is poor because she never went to the doctor (Pierre, 2008)
To begin with, Illiterate people are denied even the most basic pleasures life has to offer, they cannot, for instance, read the menu in a restaurant so they more often than not have a limited choice over what to have. Worse still, they may end up ordering what they cannot afford because they cannot read the cost of items on the menu before they go into the restaurant. They also have a problem following their favorite programs on television because they cannot read the program line up, yet another limitation of choice. This is just a tip of the iceberg, in other instances, the consequences are a lot worse. Illiterates are also obviously unable to follow up on their children’s academic performance because they cannot understand any written communication from school. They are not in a position to help their children with their homework leading to their poor performance at school and a general lack of incentive to study.
Illiteracy can also lead to poor health of an individual while at the same time putting one’s family at risk. This is because of their inability to determine whether drugs and foodstuffs are safe for consumption from the instructions given on their packages. Moreover, “They cannot observe preventive healthcare admonitions” (Kozol, 1985, p. 310). They also cannot take health insurance policies because they are unable to make sense of the details on health insurance forms. Unable to read and write, they cannot fill out medical forms and therefore run the risk of being diagnosed wrongly or even going through uncalled for surgical procedures.
Illiterates cannot keep up with the current trends in the business world; they cannot operate bank accounts and draw checks so they have to incur a lot of traveling costs in order to make payments directly. Consequently, they do not pay their bills and taxes in good time. It is difficult if not impossible for illiterates to interpret lease contracts making them ignorant of their contractual rights. Landlords and billing agencies can take advantage of their ignorance to harass and overcharge them. In emergency cases, illiterates will often find their hands tied because they cannot look up numbers from telephone directories, even if they manage to call for help they still have trouble describing their location incase they are stranded or have a medical emergency.
It is hard enough to get a job without any formal education, it is even more difficult to keep a job when you cannot read and write. 41% to 44% of people with very low literacy levels live abject poverty. A research conducted by the National Institute of Literacy revealed that 27 million Americans cannot complete a job application (Pierre, 2008), this practically renders them unemployed. Illiterates cannot exercise their democratic rights because they cannot read ballots. Furthermore, they cannot read political manifestos in order to make informed choices about which candidates to vote for.
To conclude, illiteracy is very costly both to illiterate individuals and society. Most illiterates waste a great deal of resources because of their inability to read and write, they spend more money to buy meals in restaurants and incur extra costs when carrying out transactions. They also contribute to the poor performance of school-going children and pose a potential risk to their health. In the long run, poor academic performance leads to unemployment while poor health resulting from preventable causes has an unnecessary burden in the health sector. The government also uses a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money to alleviate poverty which is sparked by high illiteracy levels. The government should put in place measures to eradicate illiteracy in order to reduce the costs associated with it.
Kozol, Jonathan. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society.” Axelrod, Rise B, and Charles Raymond Cooper. Reading Critically, Writing Well. New York: St. Martins Press, 1996. 310-315. https://www.macmillanlearning.com/college/us/product/Reading-Critically-Writing-Well/p/1319032753
Pierre, Thomas. Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America. 25 Feb 2008. 25 April 2013 http://abcnews.go.com/WN/LegalCenter/story?id=4336421&page=1#.UW3ittmWeoY