IntroductionThe precise definition of literacy has been one of the most debated issues in the community as scholars and critics have never wrapped a universal characterization of such. It has generated definitions that conflict or vary, contradict and in one point or another rarely complement each other. More specifically, it is manifested due to the existence of cultural diversity that the understanding of literacy come in several forms as it depends on the beliefs and the comprehension they have for different aspects in life (Ouane, 1992).But like other fields, it is a natural state for cultures to have diverse perceptions on several things, however, there will always be specific perspectives that need to be defined in a universal vortex so as to have a harmonious understanding and build collaboration among individuals.
This then has been an issue which policy makers, critics and scholars have deliberated upon. What is literacy?UNESCO: More than just read and writeUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) came up with a definition of literacy as that of “the ability to indentify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associate with varying contexts” (“Literacy Portal,” 2008). Patently, it is an enhanced description what seemed to be “able to read and write” traditional understanding of the term.As a matter or fact, UNESCO even stressed that a person who is literate shall be anchored with the ability to achieve his or her goals, develop one’s potentials and knowledge acquired, and able one to participate fully with the society. Clearly, UNESCO has envisioned literacy as an answer to fulfilling every person’s goals in life; hence emphasizing the importance of it as that which will help an individual fit in to the community which hitherto leads to the conclusion that one who is literate will succeed.Teachers as tools for literacy among studentsNumerous authors suggest the definition of “literacy as a kind of reality that educators should be able to grasp and explain, or, expressed in more classical terms that literacy has an ‘essence’ that can be captured to some Aristotelian-like enterprise.” Bizzell (1984) bickers that students need “cultural literacy” (in a pre-Hirschian custom), which is “the objects of knowledge and the ways of thinking that one must master in order to participate in a particular community” (453).
Moreover, students enroll to the academic world without these ”objects of knowledge” or the “ways of thinking” essential for logical maturity (Al-Kahtany, 1996). She further stresses that it is the teacher’s job to see that they get it. Thus, the goal of such literacy is displacement—mostly that where the student needs to adjust–-from one community into another.Literacy in the form of reading and writing is atypical to involvement in the academic community and that “literacy is not required for participation in every sort of community” (453).
To turn out to be literate, then, means giving up one set of values for, seemingly, an enhanced, more noteworthy set that will thrust one to the fore of academia and consequently all the way through acceptance and fitting in with the society. Additionally, the reason that teachers are considered as second parents of the students, it is important that they know how to help the child to become literate and understand the importance of such so as to fire up the attention of being one (Al-Kahtany, 1996; No Child Left Behind Act, 2002).How literacy works in the communityLiteracy is a public concern and policy in the community. It is a requirement when it comes to the context of employment, a skill when people talk about education, an asset in master status in the realm of societal pyramids and a waste to those who are against the “importance of being literate” (Ahmed, 2000). Economists pigeonhole the employment training given to working individuals as being either unambiguous or wide-ranging in nature.Particular training imparts skills and familiarity with regard to academic concepts, by which economists regard to as “human capital,” which would not be manageable external of the worker’s existing firm. Learning a company’s system for storing files or observing a co-worker maneuver a piece of apparatus—that is part of the company’s production process are examples of specific training.
General training, on the other hand, comprises human capital that is transferable to other firms and jobs.Conceivably, these jobs cannot be learned without the skill of comprehension on instructions which must be read or the understanding of concepts on how a machine woks. Perhaps there are basic skills that can be acquired by mere observation, but the contemporary society offers a pre-requisite of being able to run complicated machineries which only a literate individual can practice (Bean, 2003).In simpler explanation, a child cannot pursue elementary school if the student is not able to read and write.
Inasmuch as a father cannot enroll his child to an institution without being able to understand the rules and regulations of the school or sign the papers for other transactions. Simple analogy of the importance of being literate unfolds right after one is able to be a part of the “concerned society.” Most importantly, an average individual would not be able to live in a community anchored with laws—by which all countries have—as being not able to understand signs would most probably send a person a jail.Conception of literacy as an attribute of individualsPerhaps the single most compelling fact about literacy is its characterization as a social achievement. As mentioned above, its role in the community is influential that there exists a ratio 9 over 10 who believes that literacy is important to be successful in life. Apparently, it refers to getting a job, being accepted by colleagues or classmates in school and gain friends. Thus in some cases, it is more than just that—one could run for a position in Congress and etch a name in the face of history. Basically, it’s all about being “a member of the community” and the rest then just follows like a domino effect in the face of the society (Ahmed, 2000).
Importance of literacy as projected by the government“Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development”—UNESCO’s definition of literacy could be collaborated with that of the traditional framework but perhaps more humane. Perceivably, this is because their studies have led them to an absolute conclusion that those who are illiterate found it hard to find a job and were hardly accepted by the contemporary masses.This can also be collaborated with how Reither (1993) commended: “[w]hat is missing from these classrooms are the circumstances that make possible and (thus) motivate writing as a social process—the very conditions that make collaboration and cooperation appropriate, even necessary, in many business, governmental, and professional workplaces . . . what is missing are the rhetorical needs and moves that drive the production of written knowledge.” The view of the government is designed with a standard basis that comes in a constant flux of possibilities—that educational reform must not end until every individual is literate—of course in mere reality, one would find it hard to communicate nowadays without the vanguard of education, more importantly, in the whirlpool of employment (Michalove, Shockley, & Allen, 1995).
Education as universal problem among statesEducation has always been a problem and a solution in the government’s list of tasks that needed ample attention. The issue on literacy among children and individuals in all over the globe has been one of the most focused areas of the collaborating countries. As a matter of fact, educational funds have been taking a large piece of the financial allocations that the governments bestow on their respective bureaus and departments. This is because an astonishing truth shook the world when statistics showed a surprising number of illiterate individuals not only relying on statistics based on children but even on adults (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002).In addition, the World Education Inc. even stressed that the societal problem is rooted on the lack of education due to financial instability; hence emphasizing that the world’s literacy situation is important to the success of the economy and the fulfillment of social development and therefore needs to be resolved in the soonest time possible.Policies crafted towards aiding illiteracyLiteracy programs and policies has evidently improved for the past few years compared to that of the age where only the international countries excelled on academic fields as well as on the ranking of literacy. Today, it has been noted that one in five adults are illiterate wherein two-thirds of which are women and there are 72 million children who are not enrolled in school (“Literacy Portal,” 2008).
UNESCO proclaimed 8th of September as the International Literacy Day which eventually started in the year 1965 and is carried on up to date.The intent of the so-called holiday is to give significance to the communities who have helped the organization in its campaign for expunging illiteracy—as much as possible—in every nation. As a matter of fact, United Nations hand in hand promised to help the countries which showed the lowest literacy ranks in the world and hopes that the campaign will be successful in the near future (“Literacy Portal,” 2008).Literacy as a social constructivismIn a comparison on traditional educators and critics’ view on the essence of literacy as well as with the need of literacy in the society, it appears that some critics believe that literacy is apparently not needed for an individual to be accepted by the society or achieve his or her goals. To quote literacy as a “social bias” means that there are those who have lived their lives being “not able to read” but “able to raise their families” (Michalove et al., 1995).However, this connotation applies to those who reside on mountains or remote areas who does not have the access to education or because they have already been literate in the ‘lifestyle’ that they have. This then leads to a deliberation on the importance of literacy—being able to read and to write—when they themselves have been living that way for a long time and has survived.
Further, one focal issue raised on this was the issue on “acceptance” as some tribes believe that to involve their selves in an arena which is unfamiliar to them would not do them well or their children. As they believe that they would find a hard time trying to fit in with the new environment nevertheless for other people to accept their way of living.Farming is one of the most common arguments raised when the issue of literacy is raised to them. They believe that their ability to farm and survive is the only thing that matter hence they would not need to read or to write just to have food for continued existence. Undeniably, they are entitled for their own thoughts and beliefs, however, as the campaign goes to show, their lives would be better if they are educated and be among the vast majority of humanity.Cultural diversity as hindrance to literacy campaignAside from the point tackled on the views of those who strongly oppose on the idea that literacy is presumably an issue on social constructivism, there are a few thoughts that stir the society on how to pull the strings and be able to reach the hearts of those who are quite skeptic on the verity of literacy. Among those professionals, ambivalence about the disciplinary boundaries of literacy has been the consequence of several converging trends during the previous 15 years.
Literacy as a topic of interest and study has become decidedly cross-disciplinary and to a lesser extent interdisciplinary as the result of these trends (Bean, 2003).For example, in the instructional pitch, the concept of emergent literacy has highlighted the integration of language processes in young children’s improvement of literacy (see Labbo ; Kuhn, chap. 5, this volume), a shift in viewpoint that has effectively eliminated the previous separation of reading and writing instruction in the minds of leading educators and researchers, if not entirely, in classrooms and schools.
Researchers who not that long ago saw themselves conducting harmonizing but disjoint research proved that literacy is an issue which will consistently stir the nation with critics and deliberations.No Child Left Behind PolicySigned into law in the year 2002, No Child Left Behind Act serves as one of the most successful and effective reforms crafted under President George Bush’s administration. The policy’s objective is to enhance and improve America’s public schools, and provide educational privileges to every child.
As the title of the act itself portrays, it aims to give every child in America the chance to be literate regardless of hindrances—such as financial instability and racial issues—which presumably has crippled the chance of every child to acquire education.The act covers several fields for optimization which focuses specifically on elementary and secondary contexts. The following were the cited goals for the said policy: accountability for results, which hopes to create a strong standard where students ranging from grade 3-8 should know and learn how to read basic mathematical equations; unprecedented state and local flexibility and reduced red tape so as to provide states and local school districts a flexible discretion on reallocating education funds dependent on their respective developmental plan.Furthermore, the act also focuses on resources on proven educational methods and approaches which are research-based and apparently help most students to learn. In addition, it also aims to extend the choices of parents who have children failing academically in a certain school and allow the child to transfer on another school provided that the immediate institution has been identified as “failing.” Hence having the federal Title 1 funds which approximately ranges from $500 to $1000 per child allot to supplemental educational services such as tutoring, after school services, school programs during the summer vacation through the assistance of faith and community based organizations (“NCLB and Other Elementary/Secondary Policy Documents,” 2008).The aforementioned objectives of the policy are the response of the American government to improve the academic realm of the country and hopefully correct the cited problems as conducted in critical studies and researches. Even though there has been anticipated obstacles that may possibly come along the way, the government pursued with the implementation of the policy and look forward to twist the “literacy chaos” of America.
Results of the policies crafted for literacy in communitiesAside from the policies designed by the Department of Education, UNESCO being the umbrella society of the campaign for literacy in schools and in the community supports policy development in the following fields: (1) reflect on conceptual frameworks for literacy, (2) assessment of the literacy situation at national and sub-national levels, (3) frameworks of policies and strategies that are targeted to the general public and anchored towards effective implementation, (4) to monitor, evaluate and consider the utilization of literacy programs among associated departments (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002).Complementary to what has been mentioned above, it also aims to: (5) plan provisions and see to it that the policies crafted does not overlap the essence of cultural diversity, (6) promotion of quality contents, pedagogical practice and training to assigned or designated facilitators, (7) link formal and non formal approaches which are anticipated to rouse the public’s preferences in life and lastly, (8) the promotion of local community responsibility and management of programs employed (“Literacy Portal,” 2008).Clearly, the government and the national sectors are consistently looking for means to improve literacy among communities in such a way that human rights are preserved.
Given the fact that one of the main issues why there are individuals who are not enrolled in school is because of the issue on racial discrimination and prejudice on women, specifically on countries that are tallied to be lowest on the most illiterate countries of the world.If these policies created shall be utilized in the most intellectual and feasible way possible, then impressive results shall surely top the charts. The immense changes that has transcribed in today’s world may double, and if more effort from the government and cooperation from the public is achieved, UNESCO is not far from realizing their vision of how literacy can help the society (Al-Kahtany, 1996).Conclusions and further remarksPoverty, race and human rights issues are perhaps the most astounding fields given ample focus and attention by the government in the contemporary age.
Perceivably, there have been numerous problems brought by these issues that the government can no longer shut their rationality in the fact that the society needs help and needs remedy over their struggle on these inevitable circumstances that they experience in their lives. In the aide of resolving this dilemma, a significant milestone comprising the argument on solving the long noticed problem has been carefully studied and deliberated by legislators and organizations. If legislators consistently make laws that benefit the public, then perceivably no child will be left behind and grow illiterate.
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