[Blueboard] Illiteracy in our Midst

pathways at admu.edu.ph pathways at admu.edu.ph
Wed Jan 7 11:11:34 PHT 2004

Please post.

Good morning! :) Please take time to read my article this week at The
Manila Times. :) Kindly help our cause by forwarding this to your
friends. Thank you very much! Have a good day! :)

The link to the article is (cut and paste in your browser):


Or you can read it below:

Illiteracy in our midst
The Manila Times, January 7,2004
When I was in Grade 4, I distinctly remember a research activity that our
Social Studies teacher asked us to do at our library. During that
activity we were asked to look for certain bits of information about
certain things like the average speed of a cheetah, the capital of
Finland and other pieces of facts and figures. This activity was really
meant to train us in using the library as a means to gather relevant
information and introduce us to the many useful books like the atlas,
encyclopedias and almanacs present in it. However, if there is one
interesting discovery that I had in this short exercise that up until now
I couldn't forget was the fact that I learned that our country has one of
the highest literacy rates back then. According to one of the almanacs I
saw back then, we had a literacy rate of 95 percent which would mean that
back then more than 9 out of 10 Filipinos are equipped with the skills to
read and to write. We had one of the highest literacy rates not only in
Asia but all over the world. I'm turning 25 this coming April so that
would have to be more than 15 years ago. I was very proud of this fact
until my eyes were opened to the continuous decline of the standards of
our public school system these past years. My suspicions were finally
confirmed when I got the opportunity to talk with Dr. Norma Salcedo of
the Literacy Coordinating Council last Saturday night at our radio
program. During the said conversation, Dr. Salcedo mentioned that our
current literacy rate is at 88 percent but what is on a steady decline is
what she called our functional literacy rate, which is now at 83 percent.
Functional literacy can be defined as the ability of a person to use his
or her reading and writing skills as a means to find opportunities that
would help is his or her day-to-day subsistence. This could mean that if
one is functionally literate he has the capability to find employment or
start up a livelihood venture on his own. Dr. Salcedo further mentions
that people who are not functionally literate or who are illiterate often
end up without any opportunities for employment thus, they have to resort
to depending on other people for their daily subsistence. In this regard,
these people can be seen begging for alms in the streets or they may even
be our relatives who have become parasites in our midst. 

Looking at the numbers, more than 12 million Filipinos are now considered
to be functionally illiterate. That is truly a big number and most of
these Filipinos are those who live in far-flung areas in the provinces
including those from the indigenous communities. According to studies
done on literacy here in the Philippines, the main culprit again for this
growing menace in our society is poverty. Dr. Salcedo mentions that due
to poverty, students are often asked to drop out of school as early as
Grade 1 and are asked to just help out in looking for possible sources of
income for the family. This is really sad since these children will
eventually grow up without any skills that he or she could make use of to
find better opportunities thus, his or her children will eventually meet
the same fate and the vicious cycle continues. 

Yet as always there is still hope, through the Department of Education's
Nonformal Education Program, adults can now go back to school to learn
how to read and to write. Furthermore, the nonformal education program in
cooperation with other government agencies like tesda and the dilg
through the local governments are also helping provide these adults with
livelihood training so that they would be able to use what they have
learned and provide themselves with a sustainable source of income. There
is no age requirement, some adults who are as old as 70 years old even
enroll and take part in this program. As for curbing this problem at the
earliest possible time, there are groups like the Jesuit Volunteer
Philippines (jvp) and the Cartwheel Foundation that have gone out of
their way to help teach students from far-flung areas. Through the help
of these groups, children of Lumad communities in Bukidnon and Mangyans
from Mindoro can now look forward to having a more productive future. 

Looking forward to 2004, I firmly believe that the present government and
those aspiring to become our next leaders should take a closer look at
this growing problem. If not, we may eventually wake up one day and see
that majority of our children not even knowing how to look up in an
almanac what our literacy rate is or worse, what an almanac is. 

For comments, you may email the writer at hkeh at ateneo.edu

More information about the Blueboard mailing list