Global Literacy and Numeracy

Dr Graham Lawler

Dr Lawler preparing for a BBC Interview

Literacy and numeracy are two essential skills that are necessary for success in life. Literacy refers to the ability to read and write, while numeracy refers to the ability to understand and work with numbers. Both of these skills are crucial for personal and professional development, and they are important for achieving success in a wide range of fields. There are also states known as functional illiteracy and functional innumeracy. These are states where the individual has some skills but they are so low level as to be ineffective in society.

Literacy and numeracy are the foundation stones of education. Literacy is essential for communication and understanding in all aspects of life to be an effective member of society. The ability to read and write is vital for success in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life. Literacy is also vital for accessing information and resources, making informed decisions, and participating fully in society.

Numeracy, on the other hand, is essential for understanding and quantifying the world around us. It is the ability to work with numbers and make sense of mathematical concepts to solve everyday problems. For example, numeracy is necessary for tasks such as budgeting, calculating percentages, and understanding data. It is also important for careers in fields such as science, engineering, finance, and technology.

While literacy and numeracy are distinct skills, they are interconnected and often depend on one another. For example, the ability to read is necessary for understanding mathematical word problems, and the ability to write is necessary for communicating mathematical ideas and calculations. Similarly, numeracy skills are often necessary for reading and interpreting graphs, charts, and other visual representations of data.

Sadly, many people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, which can limit their opportunities and hinder their success. According to UNESCO, around 750 million adults worldwide are unable to read and write, and even more lack basic numeracy skills. This is particularly true for women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by illiteracy and limited access to education.

Improving literacy and numeracy skills requires investment and support from governments, communities, and individuals. This can involve initiatives such as increasing access to education, providing literacy and numeracy training programs, and promoting awareness of the importance of these skills. Improving literacy and numeracy skills can have a positive impact on individuals, communities, and economies, by opening up opportunities for education, employment, and personal growth.

In conclusion, literacy and numeracy are essential skills that are necessary for success in life. They are the foundation of education and are important for personal and professional development in a wide range of fields. Improving literacy and numeracy skills requires investment and support, but the benefits are significant and can lead to greater opportunities and a better quality of life for individuals and communities.

The books below will help you develop literacy skills in your teenagers.

Writing in Everyday life 1: Making Inferences

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