The traditional definition of literacy is considered to be the ability to read and write, or the ability to use language to read, write, listen, and speak. In modern contexts, the word refers to reading and writing at a level adequate for communication, or at a level that lets one understand and communicate ideas in a literate society, so as to take part in that society. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted the following definition: "Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society."
Many policy analysts consider literacy rates a crucial measure of 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 and enjoy better health and employment prospects. Policy makers also argue that literacy increases job opportunities and access to higher education. In Kerala, India, for example, female and child mortality rates declined dramatically in the 1960s, when girls who were educated in the education reforms after 1948 began to raise families. Recent researchers, however, argue that correlations such as the one listed above may have more to do with the effects of schooling rather than literacy in general. Regardless, the focus of educational systems worldwide include a basic concept around communication through text and print, which is the foundation of most definitions of literacy.
Updated On: 07.10.27