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Illiteracy Exists At Home

December 12, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 50

I enjoyed Maureen Rouhi’s editorial “Educating Women” (C&EN, Oct. 24, page 3). The editorial states, “According to the United Nations, one of every five adults in the world is illiterate.” Furthermore, Rouhi says that “most of them live in the poorest countries of the world.”

Are you aware that 20% of the citizens of the U.S. are classified as illiterate? And I do not consider the U.S. one of the poorest countries of the world. Since retiring, I have worked with our local Adult Literacy Council teaching adults to read. I have worked with a 40-year-old man who was told by his company that either he learn to read or he would lose his job and a Vietnamese woman who had learned English in Vietnam and wished to learn American English. Now I am working with two recent graduates of our local high school who were placed in special education and therefore learned very little. One of these men has now started at our local community college, but the other man really has problems, and I fear his future is very limited.

In every case I have found this work to be very rewarding. We have a waiting list of people who wish to join the program. We are in great need of volunteers, which I believe is the case across the country.

By Eldon H. Sund
Wichita Falls, Texas


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