Addressing Global Illiteracy One Learner at a Time



My entry for Modules 7 and 8 boils down to the very core of adult education – literacy. Or at least I chose to approach it from the backyard. 

The Philippines does not belong to the list of countries with high illiteracy rate. This means that we rank high in terms of literacy. But how do we define this term?

The United Nations defines a literate community as one where there is fluid communication. Meaningful debates also happen there.

Illiteracy is a lot more than being unable to fill out forms or reading text messages from friends. It is estimated that around 15% of individuals aged 15 and over cannot read and write. This is roughly 781 million people all over the world or 89% of men and 81% of women.

Literacy rates differ all over the world and these numbers are pegged on the regions where reading and writing competencies are taught. Illiteracy fosters vulnerability among populations that are already at risk.

Trends in gender parity shows progress with more and more girls now being educated. Poorer regions have a more prevalent illiteracy rate. These are in areas such as Niger, South Sudan and Guinea with less than 30% of their population being able to read and write.

Advocating Literacy 

I have always taken reading and writing for granted. Most of us just do it now without even giving illiteracy a thought. Yet the truth remains that many people around the globe still cannot do both. Most of them are perceived to be dumb.

I must admit that I have always had the same perception, too. This just changed when I married my husband and he introduced me to his grandfather. His grandfather owned hectares upon hectares of farming land during his younger years yet he was illiterate. He literally did not attend school but he was a respected person in their community. He also had a good head over his shoulders.

This just proves that the myth on illiterate people being unintelligent should be debunked.

Global inequality can be addressed through literacy. But to be able to address this, the literate population must be ready to focus on the more vulnerable populations.

We can become advocates of literacy by doing simple things today. First, simple activities such as donating books. These can be alphabet books or collections of short stories to be donated to the daycare center near your place.

Schools are not the only organizations that we can partner with. We can also coordinate book drives in our respective barangays. If you are too busy, then simply donate your old books to any local organization. These are basic activities that can have a lasting impact in our communities.

Another way to foster literacy is to become a volunteer teacher.

I am. Since 2011, I have been teaching theology and religion in our church. This is a non-paying task. We believe that this work is a calling. I devote my time and energy to teaching young adults (mostly college students) about the scriptures.

If you have not done volunteer work yet, allot the time to do so. You will have a sweet, sweet feeling that you’re actually doing something for some individuals. In essence, you are giving a part of you by teaching them to read and write, in my case, to comprehend the scriptures more deeply.

Making Learning More Fun 

A part of our reading on GRALE (Global Report on Adult Learning and Education) showed that literacy can result from ineffective schooling as well as poverty (social disadvantage). Since this is so, some nations have taken the initiative to increase their literacy by promoting it in a more exciting and accessible manner.

Germany offered e-learning for their literacy support system. Norway, on the other hand, created  a website that made literacy training more fun. They called it simply as read and write.

So how do we take part in a more fun skills formation? Why push someone to read Leo Tolstoy when he is more of a J.K. Rowling reader?

Before we worry about policies and which nation gets the most number of literate people, we must first make learning less discouraging. We must be willing to go beyond  traditional books. If technology increases one’s interest in reading then this has to be the means by which reading should take place. We must do everything to make illiteracy go away.

The Country’s Policies and Strategies 

Now that we have explained how we can address illiteracy in our own households, let us take a look at the policies that have helped many of our fellow Filipinos.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution has a provision that encourages non-formal, indigenous, self-learning systems. It supports any program that answers community needs.

Another policy is the EFA-PPA or Education for All Philippine Plan of Action. This specifically answers the concern of impoverished families and whether they can send their children to school. The EFA-PPA meets the poor population’s educational needs.

Many other such policies have been set forth to shorten the gap between the literates and the illiterate population.



There are policies and initiatives in our education system that aim to address illiteracy – now we know that. And our government cannot do this alone. As individuals who are studying to become educators, we also have the crucial role of helping alleviate the problem on illiteracy.

Let’s begin with us – let’s nurture our love for reading. We then radiate this to our students and our families. If we keep doing our contributions – no matter how small – we soon will make a dent in this giant called illiteracy.



Chapter 6: Understandings of literacy. (2006). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Global Report on Adult Learning and Education. (2009). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

National Literacy Policies/Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Ocampo, D., Ph.D. (n.d.). The Philippine Roadmap to Multi-literacy – Dina Ocampo’s Pages. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Soliven, P. S., Ed.D., & Reyes, M. N. (2008, April 28). The Development and State of the Art of Adult Learning and Education (ALE). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from 

Youth literacy rate, population 15-24 years, both sexes (%). (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from 





One comment

  1. Hello, Ms. Elena,

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    It is truly inspiring and enlighting. I agree with your opinion regarding the ways on decreasing illiteracy in our country or community where we live in.

    I, too, believe that we can take things into our hands if we really want to help decrease illiteracy. We cannot simply rely on our government to solve this problem immediately.

    I think that through volunteering to teach or providing any educational materials, we can help raise literacy in our communities and also encourage positive and harmonious living with one another.

    Thank you again.


    Liked by 1 person

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