ProLiteracy Strives to Break the Cycle of Poverty by Raising Awareness of Adult Education
Posted on September 26, 2016

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week logo

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, is celebrating Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (AEFL Week) to raise awareness of the adult literacy issue.

An estimated 36 million adults in the U.S. struggle with basic reading, writing, and math skills. These individuals struggle to read a menu, fill out a job application, or read a bedtime story to their children. National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is celebrated September 26–October 1 to raise public awareness about the value of adult education and family literacy. The goal of this week is to support access to basic education programs for all adults in the U.S. with low literacy skills.

Adult literacy is a factor in almost every socioeconomic issue, including parenting, health care, workforce development, and poverty. To address these issues effectively, we must invest in educating parents and workers. Adult education helps break the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy and poverty by giving adults the skills they need to be successful as workers and parents.

Adults without a high school diploma are more than twice as likely to be unemployed, work in low-wage jobs, live in poverty, and rely on government aid programs than those with higher levels of education. The value of adult literacy to our economy is estimated at more than $200 billion per year. Educating adults is a sound investment.

“While the number of people seeking help keeps growing, overall funding for literacy programs has dropped. Most programs have waiting lists,” said Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Without additional resources for these programs, the goal of a sustainable family wage through post-secondary education will be lost for those at the bottom of the education and economic ladder.”

Research shows that educating children without also addressing their parents’ needs for basic education and training will not solve the academic achievement gap. Children of low-literate parents are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. Low-literate parents who improve their own skills are more likely to have a positive impact on their children’s educational achievements and have children who stay in school longer.

For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to create a world where every person can read and write. Strong adult literacy and education programs bring a powerful return on investment, impacting the lives of the adult learners, their families, and communities. When individuals learn how to read, write, do basic math, and use computers, they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep sustainable employment, and ultimately change their lives.