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GEN 499 General Education Capstone

Published : 24-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


The topic of your essay needs to be a global societal problem from the following list: adult illiteracy, funding for General Education vs STEM in primary and secondary schools, minimum wage, oceans desertification, overcoming the digital divide, refugee (escaping persecution, war, or death) crises, species extinctions (modern), tax havens, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), universal statement of human rights (pick one), airport security, or wealth disparity. 



Illiteracy is a problem which is ignored by many people and hence it ends up going unnoticed. This problem affects many people including the actual illiterate people as well as those that they associate with too. For instance, there is a high likelihood that a person who is born from an illiterate family will not have similar life opportunities as those from literate families. In most cases, illiterate parents are not able to pass literacy skills to their children. Thus the problem of illiteracy is passed from one generation to the next and might be faced with several difficulties before it is overcome (Brown, 2013). Adult illiteracy is termed as the inability to read or write in adults and has been reported in the United States as well.  This means that many more people cannot get access information from magazines, TVs, radios and newspapers because these sources of information require some levels of literacy. It is a common practice to find many adults seeking for help especially when filling out forms because they cannot be able to read or write. In the United States, the illiterate people tend to be segregated to the local, rural and poor communities. As a result, many illiterate people are unemployed and may result into social vices like stealing or drug abuse. Since the illiterate adults are not able to associate well with the literate, they tend to form their individual opinions which in most cases have no logical grounds. As a result, the illiteracy circles may increase within their peers, families and hinders f=them from personal development (Lusardi & Scheresberg, 2013). With many people being unable to read, compute problems and write, they are also unable to meet their goals and have improved knowledge. It is important to adopt measures that are aimed at lowering the rate of adult illiteracy by the introduction of more programs so that those people who are victims of adult illiteracy can be helped. For a long period of time, many books and articles have been published on adult illiteracy but analysis and interpretations have not been done into details. This paper, therefore, provides an overview of the illiteracy among adults in the United States, possible solutions, and statistical analysis as well as interpretation.

Background information

For a long period of time, the United States has been battling with literacy problems with the adults forming the major class of victims. It begins with colonial days and slave trade whereby the slaves were sent to the American fields to work and were not allowed to attend classes to learn how to read or write (Titmus, 2014). In one way, the education was too expensive to afford, and on the other part, the Native Americans feared rivalry if the immigrants would be allowed to attend school. Although of late the levels of illiteracy have reduced, this still becomes a major problem in some communities. Since there is a large proportion of nearly 32 million adults in the United States who are illiterate, there have been efforts in providing funding for programs that support adult education. Increased literacy levels are thought that it will lead to social and economic positive changes (Lunze & Paasche-Orlow, 2014).

In order to determine the magnitude of adult illiteracy, it is a common observation that even at the moment, there are still many illiterate adults. Then a question would arise on whether there is any difference between now and their days when they were young. The trend might have started from the grandparents who would work on American farms or go to their businesses to raise bread for the family. Then later their children adopted the same system of living and had no time to attend school (Glushchenko, 2015). So with time, the illiteracy in adults spread out leading to such large proportion of illiterate people. It is estimated that more than ninety million Adults in America are illiterate such that they do not have the minimum skills which are required in the modern world. This translates into the low level of the social life in America, although externally the country is regarded as being advanced. Since most illiterate adults cannot read a newspaper, fill a job application form or read a medical prescription, there is an urgent need of taking measures that combat this problem. This means that education services should be improved starting from the elementary level.

It is believed that if the children of ages five and ten years are given books both at school and homes to read, their functional literacy increases significantly (Bray et al., 2013). However, it is reported that most schools in the urban centers in America have no proper information on how to apply for grants which can be used for projects that aim at supplying the children in elementary schools to perform well.

Statistical data

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, the current society requires high levels of literacy to handle most of the issues. Within this report, however, there is some bias concerning the level of illiteracy among the adults in the United States (Hussar & Baily, 2016).  However, it is worth noting that this report provides a valuable information concerning the adult illiteracy which is a societal problem affecting the economy and livelihoods of the people (Weber, 2015). In this article, it is straightforward and easy to trace and follow the mind of the author such that the reader is able to get a negative perception of adult illiteracy from the way the points are argued. Moreover, although this article has appealing statistics, the bias of the author against the adult illiteracy can be observed directly by analyzing the opinions of the author although some of them are not supported by any facts. It is also worth noting that most of the information in this article is limited to adults who can speak English. It would be recommended that even the non-English speakers be included in this survey so that the results can be accurate and more conclusive. The increase in the total private and public enrolment of students at elementary level from 1998 to 2011 was a positive leap in the United States (Hussar & Baily, 2016). These statistics have been made by the National Center for Education Statistics and can be termed to be a reliable source because it indicates the trends based on annual enrollments at the elementary school (Hussar & Baily, 2013).

In the second article by the National Center for Policy analysis, no bias was found although the information was based on the public and private enrolment of students in schools in the United States. It would be recommended that even the home-based schooling students need to be included in the survey. This article suggests that the illiterate people are among those on welfare, the unwed mother wand those that are arrested (Hall et al., 2014). The article can be said to be a credible source simply because it has offered several facts to support the findings. However, this article was too short and more information would be required. The strength of this paper is that it is a foundation which is recognized nationally and hence it has illustrated the effects of illiteracy to the United States clearly.


This essay has highlighted the situation of adult illiteracy as it is in the United States. Statistical data has also been provided concerning adult illiteracy, interpretations made and recommendations were given. Therefore adult illiteracy affects the whole world and should be addressed with a lot of concern and urgency because as many adults struggle to fit in the modern society, so as they undergo a lot of suffering.


Bray, F., Ren, J. S., Masuyer, E., & Ferlay, J. (2013). Global estimates of cancer prevalence for 27 sites in the adult population in 2008. International journal of cancer, 132(5), 1133-1145.

Brown, J. A. (2013). Television', Critical Viewing Skills', Education: Major Media Literacy Projects in the United States and Selected Countries. Routledge.

Glushchenko, I. V. (2015). The Soviet Educational Project: The Eradication of Adult Illiteracy in the 1920s–1930s. Russian Education & Society, 57(11), 911-953.

Hall, R., Greenberg, D., Laures?Gore, J., & Pae, H. K. (2014). The relationship between expressive vocabulary knowledge and reading skills for adult struggling readers. Journal of research in reading, 37(S1).

Hussar, W. J., & Bailey, T. M. (2013). Projections of Education Statistics to 2021. NCES 2013-008. National Center for Education Statistics.

Hussar, W. J., & Bailey, T. M. (2016). Projections of Education Statistics to 2023. NCES 2015-073. National Center for Education Statistics.

Lunze, K., & Paasche-Orlow, M. K. (2014). Limited literacy and poor health: The role of social mobility in Germany and the United States. Journal of health communication, 19(sup2), 15-18.

Lusardi, A., & Scheresberg, C. D. B. (2013). Financial literacy and high-cost borrowing in the United States (No. w18969). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Titmus, C. J. (Ed.). (2014). Lifelong education for adults: An international handbook. Elsevier.

Weber, N. (2015). Adult Illiteracy in the United States: Analysis & Solutions for an Education Crisis.

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