21st Century: Why Is There Illiteracy?

In May 2014, the National Census revealed that 3,000 people in Malta between the ages of 10 and 39 are not able to read or write a simple sentence. Why? 

It’s baffling, isn’t it?

How could 3,000 people aged between 10 and 39 not know how to read or write a simple sentence?

The real question, however, is: Why?

Is it their families? Not every family encourages its young to read, and not every family values the importance of education. Furthermore, we don’t know what kind of upbringing those 3,000 people have had. But, even if their families did not push them to study, it’s still a mystery how all this happened.

Is it self-will? Did all these 3,000 persons choose not to learn? Did they wake up one day and say ‘screw it’ to learning how to read and write? I don’t know, but I don’t feel like the answer to that question would shed any light on the enigma.

Is it the education system? Every person out of those 3,000 received 11 years of compulsory education. How one can go through 11 years of compulsory schooling and be illiterate is beyond me. How could one sit through thousands of hours worth of tutoring and not take anything in? Could it be that maybe school wasn’t for them, or was it the education system that had failed them?

I’m not sure, but the true shocker is that it has happened. In an age when we are bombarded by words – from our TV screens to Facebook – going through life without the ability of basic writing and reading skills is flabbergasting.

More importantly, it’s also greatly worrying as these people have no means of safeguarding themselves when signing contracts, buying food or even when consuming medicine. Needless to say, education does not give you common sense. That is a life skill and a personality trait, and even straight A students can have no common sense or general knowledge – but being street-wise and not being able to read and write is still not enough.

I believe that in a country such as Malta, no-one aged between 10 to 39 has a valid excuse for not being able to read and write. With free education and an arsenal of material and mediums at our disposal, the feat is in not managing to learn rather than in learning.

And, as to why there is still illiteracy in 21st Century Malta: I think it’s a question that sits neatly in between ‘Is there a God?’ and ‘How did we not invent sliced bread before?’

Why do you think there’s still illiteracy in Malta?

Let us know in the comments section below.