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Myths about literacy: Part 6

Published: 
Thursday, August 14, 2014

The last myth we’d like to highlight in this series is the myth that non-readers can continue to get by without reading, just as they have done successfully in the past. 

While some very prominent people among us came from homes where their parents were not readers and their literacy level did not prevent opportunities to advance, truth is, we now live in an age of information where most of that information is written. 

The word “book” and “text” have found new meaning to what they were 20 years ago, with the advent of Facebook, and short messaging now replacing the phone call. To understand how this new age has changed life for the non-reader, consider how would you feel surrounded by written information that gives others a message but not you? 

For example, looking at the high tech screen in a Japanese foreign used car wanting to enjoy some of the car’s features, but unable to read. 

The world closes in for a non-reader. To avoid embarrassment non-readers avoid anything they haven’t done before. With life in the digital era, they pass up promotions if the new post will involve text in technology, or if it takes them away from a familiar (memorised) manual routine of performing tasks. While a reader may find technology makes life easier, electronic text compounds the challenges faced by a non-reader.

Over the years, Alta students have talked about being on the outside, feeling excluded. As one student wrote: “There is no place for me in the heart of society.” Her choice of the word “heart”—tells you she feels rejected, unloved by the world around her. Not only are poor readers left out, but they feel they have to hide because those who read think reading is easy.

Do non-readers want to be a part of this new age? Of course they do. They too desire to be “in-the-know,” have a social life on Facebook and access almost everything, from jobs to giveaways, knowing how to fill out a form for themselves. They want a life beyond getting by. They want to go into the world populated with written information and “get through”. 

A survey of students completing the Alta Programme has shown that not only are students able to apply the skills to daily life but they feel happier and fulfilled in their lives.

End the stigma of getting by. Encourage a non-reader to get in to an Alta class and get through their daily routine without fear. Alta registers people aged 16 and over once a year—on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of September, the start of the new academic year for free literacy classes. 

To register, visit your nearest public library on September 2 or 3 with a form of ID. Alta tutors will let you know the class options in the area and sign you up.

• Become a part of Alta. Volunteer, Donate, Sponsor a student. New student registration begins September 2 and 3. 

Call 624-ALTA (2582) or e-mail [email protected] or like us on Facebook: ALTA Trinidad.