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Lack of education holds back person, their family, society
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Friday, 24 February 2012 00:00

Most of us take reading for granted.

When we see words, our brains automatically interpret them with little effort or concentration.

Imagine if this weren’t the case.

Imagine, as an adult, struggling to read product labels or important notices, let alone newspapers, magazines or books.

Last week Arizona celebrated Adult Literacy Week bringing attention to the need for adults who did not earn a high school diploma or GED to return to school.

According to the Arizona Department of Education, approximately 825,000, or 17 percent, of adults living in Arizona do not have a high school diploma or GED and are not in the process of obtaining one.

Language is the foundation of all other cognitive skills necessary to function productively in society.

Without a firm grasp on language, individuals have a hard time communicating, which can make it harder to find a job, raise children, take care of personal finances and be an active member of a community.

Most, if not all, job applications today ask whether a person has a high school diploma or GED regardless of the establishment or pay scales. Those without either certificate can be forced to take low-paying jobs if they are able to beat out those with an education for the position.

According to data released by the state, a person without a high school diploma earned $8,500 less per year than a worker with a diploma in 2008, and 90 percent of welfare recipients are high school dropouts.

Raising children can also be more challenging. Not only will parents have a difficult time understanding communications from the school, but helping their children with schoolwork may not be an option. Children run the risk for falling behind or not fully grasping homework lessons without guidance at home.

Reading and understanding utility bills, credit card statements and loan documents is hard enough for those considered highly competent with regard to literacy. Those lacking education struggle and can easily find themselves in financial trouble without a solution in sight.

Luckily, state and local organizations recognize the need for educational services for adults and are willing to help. Online schools and programs also make learning possible for those with jobs and families. Information on education for Arizonans 16 years and older is available on the state’s Department of Education website.

Better education for the majority of our state’s residents means a brighter future for all of us.


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