related topics
{language, word, form}
{theory, work, human}
{country, population, people}
{school, student, university}
{system, computer, user}
{work, book, publish}
{rate, high, increase}
{law, state, case}
{church, century, christian}
{group, member, jewish}
{woman, child, man}
{math, number, function}

Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read and write. It is a concept claimed and defined by a range of different theoretical fields.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society."


Literacy in the 21st Century

One needs simply to reflect on the nature of the communication being practiced in reading this article to understand the second form of evolution in our understanding of Literacy. We no longer rely on an individual or a small group of individuals to convey information. Traditional news outlets are battling for popularity with blogs, forums, twitter, and instant messaging. During the Iranian Revolution during June, 2009, such news sources were so valuable that the US State Department officials asked Twitter to postpone site maintenance which would stop the flow in information through Tweets.[1][2]

This idea has forever changed the landscape of information access, and is integral in an understanding of Literacy as a practice, in the 21st Century. It is no longer sufficient to consider whether a student can 'read' (decoding text, really) and 'write' (encoding text), and it is necessary to consider more meaningful aspects of literacy in education and in society as a whole, if we are to complete the transition we are in, from a society in which communication was never possible on the level of 'many to many', to one in which it is.[3]

Economic impact

Many policy analysts consider literacy rates as a crucial measure to enhance a region's human capital. This claim is made on the grounds that literate people can be trained less expensively than illiterate people, generally have a higher socio-economic status[4] and enjoy better health and employment prospects. Policy makers also argue that literacy increases job opportunities and access to higher education.

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