Food for thought

25 03 2008

I’m off traipsing around country Victoria at the moment, so until I have time to write more, here’s a couple more examples of the importance of reading.

1. Paul Jennings on Radio National. I was listening to this recently while sitting in my car in the supermarket carpark. It was close to 40 degrees, my little fuel gauge warning light had been flashing for the last few kms, so I had to turn the engine off and hope like crazy it would appear on the website so I could listen to it in it’s entirety. As you can see, it did. The interview with Paul Jennings starts about half an hour in, if you don’t want to listen to the whole program.

2. Last year, the US officially had the highest incarceration rate in the world. It’s not hard to find statistics based on this large imprisoned population, as well as articles discussing the rates of illiteracy amongst inmates, and the apparent cause and effect relationship between education and crime. In my search for more local statistics of a similar nature, I came across this site from Canada, the Adopt a Library Literacy Program, created by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other agencies.

It is the belief of the creator and supporters of the Adopt A Library Literacy Program that there is a relationship between youth illiteracy and crime.

While there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim, the statistics seem to indicate a strong relationship between low literacy skills and increased levels of crime in later years; the higher the level of literacy, the lower the crime rate.

“Better to see them in libraries now than in trouble with the law later”
-John Kennedy, founder of the Adopt A library Literacy Program

A literate society is more productive, healthier, and globally competitive. As a developed nation, we therefore have to ask policy makers and ourselves if it is more cost effective to invest in literacy initiatives now or attempt to recoup the immeasurable costs that are associated with higher crime rates later.

Individuals with limited literacy skills have fewer opportunities for training and employment, and fewer options in life.

65 percent of Canadians entering prison for the first time cannot read or write well.

Sobering thought, that last bit.

To me, these two unrelated stories strangely compliment each other.




One response

30 03 2008
David Linke

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Whitley Phipps (and hear his gospel singing also – do a youtube search for his rendition of Amazing Grace – well worth the effort) during a conference in Orlando earlier this year on the topic of literacy levels and the link to multi-generational imprisonment. Dr Phipps paints a terrible picture of the current situation in the US prison system and it’s direct link to the terrible literacy rate amongst some african american communities. Some of the statistics he presented from his work during the first Clinton administration are truly scary.

I will not quote the stats as I do not want to test my memory and get them wrong. But I am sure you could do a search for the work is foundation is doing and read the stats yourself.

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