Functional Illiteracy

What is Illiteracy?

What is illiteracy? Illiteracy is the inability to read, write, speak and do basic math. It is also the inability to express and understand ideas and make decisions. There are also several other forms of illiteracy that exist in all cultures, especially in countries where poverty is prevalent.

What is illiteracy?

It’s more than just reading. Here are other forms of illiteracy:

Health illiteracy

People living in poverty are often uneducated in healthcare and have a difficult time making good healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. It is common for these people to believe old wives’ tales and myths.

Financial and Numerical illiteracy

People in cultures where poverty is prevalent often don’t understand how money works and sometimes use money irresponsibly. Simple numerical tasks are difficult for these individuals, which sometimes causes them to be exploited in the marketplace.

Cultural illiteracy

E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia, explains, “To be culturally literate is to possess the basic information needed to thrive in the modern world.”1

Technological illiteracy

This is the inability to use new technologies as they become available. We all know that learning new things takes time, but a person with technological illiteracy has trouble learning simple technology even though they have been patiently taught many times.

GFA World has been helping people in Asia through various avenues since 1979. One avenue of help has been through providing adult literacy classes. When adults learn to read and perform basic math, they can provide for families in a new way. They are suddenly qualified for more jobs and are no longer limited to manual labor. They can negotiate in the marketplace, read applications, read medical information, understand street signs and begin to learn technology. Best of all, they can discover the power of Christ’s love as they learn how to read God’s Word. Consider giving to GFA World’s literacy efforts today!

1 E.D. Hirsch, Jr. “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.”