Based on our experience over the past twenty years, less than 5% of learners in some top South African schools can currently read relevant graded material on the required comprehension and speed levels for their respective age and grade. This leads one to wonder how they were able to make it into the qualified job market, because if they do not have the required reading skills they are unable to write and complete exam papers successfully at school and university or college.
Many children and adults in South Africa and throughout the world aren’t able to read at all and many companies can’t employ illiterate people. While there are jobs for people who can’t read and write, these jobs undoubtedly don’t pay well and this is one of the reasons why the cycle of poverty persists. Regardless of where you live, what your parents do or the type of culture you want to raise your children in, fact remains that illiteracy lowers the quality of life and hampers economic growth.
This is not only a South African problem. According to figures published in 2015 by the Department of Education in America, 775-million people around the world cannot read. In many countries, more value is placed on the education of boys, leading a disproportionately high number of females to remain illiterate into adulthood.
Apart from the economic and quality of life benefits, research has shown that reading reduces stress levels, improves memory function and also leads to better quality of sleep. Some of the other benefits of reading, which are arguably less obvious, include the following:
- Learn new skills
Self-improvement starts with getting access to the tools and knowledge that you need. Self-help is one of the most popular book categories and there’s a book for any type of skill that one would want to learn. Whether you want to learn Chinese, how to play the guitar or how to be a better conversationalist, there’s undoubtedly a book dedicated to the topic.
- To change perspectives and shift paradigms
It’s true that you can learn about different cultures or history from a television documentary, but few things are able to boost imagination and give unique insights like a book. A book about different cultures or experiences can increase your empathy and essentially give you a passport to the world.
- Enhance awareness about different subjects
You may not be interested in becoming a professional accountant, chemical engineer or robotics scientists, but even the slightest interest should get you excited enough to pick up a book about the subject. By increasing your knowledge on a topic, you are able to become a better conversationalist, add more value at your own organisation and relate to more people on a whole new level.
- Boost your health
Besides lowering your stress levels and getting more, better quality sleep from reading, you can also read up on various health related topics. Health and dieting is one of the top book categories, so whether you’re interested in reading about diets and nutrition or great fitness regimes, there will be a book to guide you on your journey.
It is time to take responsibility for yourself as an adult and for your children, if you are a parent, to ensure that they are able to read at the required comprehension and speed levels. The younger one starts learning to read, the sooner the benefits from all the advantages of being able to read can be obtained.
The battle against inadequate reading skills and illiteracy will intensify in the years to come as people increasingly tend to spend less time reading and more time watching television. The only way to counter it is for schools, tertiary institutions and companies to have a specific focus and measuring system in place that empowers their learners, students and employees to overcome the negative and catastrophic impacts of inadequate reading skills and illiteracy.
Our team at Stimulus Maksima! offers tools and solutions that help our clients, from toddlers to adults, to improve their English and Afrikaans reading and learning skills.