Functional Illiteracy

How Does Adult Illiteracy Contribute to Poverty?

According to UNESCO, 773 million children and adults worldwide are illiterate, meaning they lack basic reading, writing and math skills to help them navigate their daily lives.1 Illiteracy traps people in cycles of low self-esteem, debt and poverty. Illiterate adults cannot complete medical, governmental or job applications and forms, or read medicine labels or street signs. Illiterate adults may only qualify for jobs that require long hours in hazardous work that offer minimal pay. Low-income jobs increase the risk of illness and injury, and they are often insufficient to provide for a family. Adult illiteracy negatively affects families and their communities.

Parents who did not receive an education are less likely to put their children in school and encourage them in their education. Through education, children learn valuable literacy, math and relational skills. These skills are vital to escaping poverty because they allow children to hope. If children can graduate from secondary school, that increases their chances of gaining jobs with better pay than their parents and even looking for better opportunities. Literacy breaks cycles of generational poverty and helps adults advocate for themselves and their families.

What is GFA World doing to support adult literacy?

  • Child sponsorship — Before they become adults, children need opportunities to learn and grow in school. However, many families do not value education for their children or cannot afford to send them to school. GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program supports families and encourages children to remain in school. The child sponsorship program provides resources for children and their families such as nutritional food, clean water, tutoring, school supplies and more. When children can attend school with the proper supplies, food and resources, they can build literacy skills and hope for the future. Consider sponsoring a child today!
  • Adult literacy classes — Through literacy classes, GFA missionaries teach adults phonetics, letter-writing and sound combinations. Literacy classes empower adults to read, write and do basic math. These skills help adults navigate daily life, read medical and governmental paperwork and support their children in school. Literacy skills open new job opportunities and build hope in individuals and families. Adult literacy classes also show participants Christ’s love and help lift families out of poverty, changing communities for the better.

Join GFA World’s efforts by supporting these life-changing programs.

Learn more about functional illiteracy

1 “Literacy.” UNESCO. Accessed 6 February 2022.