5 Ways Illiteracy in The Developing World Contributes to Reduced Lifespans

Illiteracy is a huge issue in the modern world. Few people realize the full impact illiteracy has on the lives of the illiterate.

Here are 5 ways illiteracy impacts peoples lives

1. Creates barriers to economic opportunities

Many illiterate people are unemployed or underemployed. Illiterate people may have a difficult time finding employment since many jobs typically require literacy skills. Even filling out a job application is likely difficult if they don’t know how to read or write. Without these crucial skills, something as simple as sending a simple email to a colleague can be a major task to complete. Therefore, employment can be much harder to find for those who are illiterate, especially in today’s society where we use communications technologies so frequently.

2. Lack of Awareness

Many illiterate people are unaware of the benefits that literacy and education can grant them. Plenty of illiterate people in the world today were born to illiterate parents. Illiterate parents may not realize that education and literacy skills are important for future success. In many places around the world employment after education is not something likely. So many may not see the promise in learning these essential skills if it gives them no value in return. This is especially a problem in more rural areas since the social benefit of literacy is more apparent in urban centers. Those who are literate typically understand the benefits of education and literacy. Therefore, they tend to push for their kids to receive education and literacy skills.

Thus, illiteracy can be multigenerational, as parents continue to undervalue education and literacy.

3. Promotes child marriage

There are 773 million people who are illiterate across the globe, with most of them being women.

Many parents living in poverty, who are illiterate themselves may not see the benefits of children’s education. For young girls, they have even fewer chances to succeed. Young girls are sometimes married so that parents can receive dowry money and continue to support the family. After marriage, these young brides have fewer opportunities to receive education and literacy skills. Eventually, this leads to a culture of child marriage, in regions where illiteracy is common.

4. Shortened lifespans

Along with the hardships that come from fewer economic opportunities, illiterate people tend to have shorter lifespans.

Illiteracy can directly affect life spans. For example, an illiterate person may not be able to read instructions written on a bottle of medicine. As such they may take too much or too little of a certain medication, leading to severe health outcomes. Illiterate people are much less likely to know about infectious diseases like COVID-19 or AIDS and what they should do to prevent them. This makes them much more vulnerable than those who are literate. It also makes them less likely to know of services and resources that can help them.

5. Promotes a lifestyle of crime

It was found that over 60% of all prison inmates are illiterate. Of those only 16% return to prison if they receive education and literacy skills, while 70% return if they receive no help.

While illiteracy and crime are not directly related, illiterate people tend to display criminal behavior. Through education and literacy, people often develop an idea of what behaviors are socially acceptable and ethical. Those who are illiterate, may not have similar experiences, resulting in a propensity towards criminal activities. It may also be the case that poverty or a lack of employment from being illiterate can lead people to turn to criminal activities, as sources of income

Understanding how illiteracy impacts communities and individuals, help raise awareness of global issues. It highlights the importance of education in regions where there may be a lack of access to education.

We hope readers acknowledge the values we are trying to promote here at the Steele Family Foundation and continue to spread them in their communities.