One of Scotland County’s most invisible issues was recognized by Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker this week as he declared September to be the city’s Literacy Month.
About 30 percent of Scotland County’s adult population is considered illiterate, according to Diana Altman, chair of the Scotland County Literacy Council. The literacy council provides free tutoring in reading, writing, and basic math skills to Scotland County residents.
Today is International Literacy Day, calling attention to the plight of 800 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write their native languages.
“About one in six adults is still not literate, and approximately 67 million school-aged children are not enrolled in school,” said Altman. “Here at home, in our own community, we know that 30 percent of the population in Scotland County reads below a fifth grade level, and 20 percent of the entire population has some type of learning difficulty - most commonly dyslexia, and too many of our children do not graduate with a high school diploma.”
As Parker noted, language skills are becoming increasingly essential for many jobs as manufacturing becomes more technological and communication frequently occurs through email and text messaging. As such, the situations of many unemployed individuals are exacerbated by their limited ability to read and write.
“As things get more advanced, people can’t follow instructions if they can’t read,” said Parker. “I personally think that literacy at any age is proportionate to the level of education you can get. If you can’t read, no matter how smart you are, it’s hard to advance if you can’t comprehend.”
In addition to tutoring in basic language and mathematical skills, the Scotland County Literacy Council also provides assistance in preparing for GED examinations and the Work Keys exam required by many local employers.
“Literacy helps families be healthier and safer and provides people with sustainable opportunities to support themselves through work, contributing ultimately to the economic growth of our region and country,” said Altman.
For information about the Scotland County Literacy Council, contact 276-7007, Pat Bush at 280-4929, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org