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The poverty literacy connection


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This purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the relationship between poverty and literacy and to introduce the public library as a solution to this inequality.

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The poverty literacy connection

  1. 1. PRESENTED AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON “LITERACY EMPOWERMENT FOR ALL BEYOND 2015, EGARTON UNIVERSITY, KENYA. 7-9 OCTOBER 2015 The poverty-literacy connection: introducing the public library Lindall Elaine Adams, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Information Studies, University of South Africa
  2. 2. SO, IF LIBRARIES IS POWER… Why do people destroy libraries? Why are libraries frequently considered high value military targets by violent mobs and war criminals? Why do protesters burn down libraries when they are unhappy with their government’s service delivery?
  3. 3. Malamulele School library Mosul Public Library destroyed by ISIS
  4. 4. GOOGLE SEARCH ON BURNING OF LIBRARIES • Burning books the African way. http://inside- • Why South Africans burn libraries • Protesters burn down libraries • Malamulele still burning africa/malamulele-still-burning
  5. 5. AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF LIBRARIES? • 2.2 billion people worldwide living in poverty United Nations • Poor South African kids unlikely to escape poverty: World Bank – World Bank 2012 • Two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan (Sumner, 2012) • 462 million people in Sub-Sahara Africa live in poverty.
  6. 6. AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF LIBRARIES? • 781 million people do not possesses basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO, 2014) • 24% of illiterate people live in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12% in East Asia, 6.6% in the Pacific, 4.4% in Arab States and 4.2% in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO, 2014) • 496 million or two thirds of the illiterate world population, are adult women (UNESCO, 2014). • 126 million of youth are illiterate, is 77 million of the youth, are illiterate women (UNESCO, 2014)
  7. 7. TIME FOR A LITERACY INVESTMENT • Educating children create opportunities for children not to fall into a repetitive poverty trap • Prevent child marriages of young girls when they themselves are children. Reduce infant mortality and malnutrition (UNICEF, 2015). • Literacy makes mothers aware that infectious diseases such as malaria and pneumonia are curable through immunization. • A literate woman protects herself from contracting the HIV/Aids virus
  8. 8. WHY, THE POVERTY TRAP REMAINS AND LITERACY TARGETS NOT MET WHEN? • 58 million children of primary school age are not attending school (UNICEF (2015) • 15 million girls of the total world population are not attending school. • “Out of school” children are begging, carrying bricks or buckets of water, polishing shoes, washing cars, weaving carpets, work as camel jockeys, working on the plantations or even cleaning houses
  9. 9. There is a strong correlation between illiteracy and poverty (Stephen, 2011, p. 455; McShane, 2011, p. 38) but education is within reach of everyone, and the public library serves as the tool to empower the poor and reducing poverty through literacy.
  10. 10. PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND LITERACY • Are advocating literacy for all, from early childhood to adult development • Literacy programmes create opportunities to introduce families to books and reading. • Literacy programmes to babies through story telling and puppet shows develops literacy skills to expand vocabulary. • Basic adult literacy classes are offered to adults in an attempt to reverse adult illiteracy
  11. 11. PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND INFORMATION ACCESS • Information poverty affects billions of people (Britz, 2004). • For example a study in China by Yu (2010, p. 929) to determine the information seeking habits of 73 rural farmers showed that people without access to information are deprived from having opportunities that could contribute to their wellbeing. • The study further revealed that the lack of information causes low-level literacy skills
  12. 12. PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND ICT ACCESS • 21st century is marked as the digital age with a clear marker for exposing poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and social status • UN proclaimed the Internet as basic human right, but 40% of the world population living in the developing countries are denied the rights to Internet access • Public libraries are one of the few places which provide free use of the Internet to library patrons
  13. 13. OUR SOCIETIES CONTINUE TO BURN DOWN PUBLIC LIBRARIES • Although research demonstrated that public libraries are the connection between the poverty and literacy. • A continuous misperception of what public libraries are doing, such as that they are perceived as costly, have no prestige such as academic libraries and without economic contributions.
  14. 14. THE TIME HAS COME TO Acknowledge the role of the public library and the services it constitutes to reduce poverty.
  15. 15. • Thank you Lindall Elaine Adams Skype: leah183