The importance of literacy, reading, and writing in modern society

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In order to succeed in modern life, your career, and improve your quality of life, it is vital to have good literacy skills. It is more than just being able to read, but rather how you use written information to function in modern society. We can all agree that being able to read and write effect our daily live in so many ways. It has an impact on the way we think, career progress and earning potential, and helps us to fit into our environment and social circles.

Literacy is helps us to communicate through reading and there is even a literacy day set aside by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to help promote the importance of literacy.

Being able to communicate, read and write is a priority and the ultimate investment we can make for our future. The goal of Unesco and literacy day is to one promote literacy such that one day every child will have the ability to read and in turn be able to use these skills to gain independence and autonomy. Individual with good literacy skills are far more likely to find good paying job, earn a decent salary, and have access to training opportunities. On the other hand, individual with weak literacy skills are more likely to find themselves unemployed, and if they are employed, it probable that the jobs are low paying, offer poor hours or working conditions.

Research done by Unesco Institute for Statistics show that there are roughly 774 million adults who cannot read or write of which almost 60% are women. Unesco Institute for Statistics estimates that some 123-million youths are illiterate and that only 87% of females have basic literacy skills compared to 92% of males.  Statistics for South Africa estimate that roughly 8.5 million adults are illiterate according to Unesco. Local research done in South Africa estimate that about 4 million people have never attended school. Even with these bleak statistics, the number of students graduating from universities is growing year by year.

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There is no doubt that literacy is a fundamental tool to achieve success and further career opportunities and, on a whole, improve the quality of life individual and communities they live in. Having the skills to communicate, read, and write is vital for social and economic development. It allows individuals to expand their knowledge and understanding of society.

Literacy is not simply the ability to read and write, but rather the ability to use these skills and communicate effectively. In modern society and our globalized world, literacy is far more diverse that simply reading a book and understanding what we have read. Digital literacy, for example, is the ability to understand and use information across multiple formats from computers to the internet and cellphones.

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. Cultural literacy is the ability to understand and appreciate other cultures. It requires a person to examine and understand the different beliefs, values and traditions of others.
Having a population with high literacy skills also helps a country as a whole and improved the ability of a nation to tackle different social challenges it faces. Countries with strong literacy skills generally have a better standard of health and outcomes for individuals. Highly literate populations and communities are in a far better position to deal governance in a highly diverse society.

Literacy is a fundamental human right and the basis for any individual’s ability to learn. It is essential for social and human development and provides individual the skills and empowers them to transform their lives, in turn, an improved standard of health and ability to earn a higher income.


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