Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!
How can we teach freedom and justice?
James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States once said, “Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained.”
Former Prime Minister of England Benjamin Disraeli agreed. He said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.”
When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, the philosopher Aristotle answered, “As much as the living are to the dead.”
What is a good education? In the English speaking world, it is said that there are three “R’s” to good education: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.
The first and most important “R” in that list is reading. To read is the base of a solid education. Reading helps you to learn other subjects. Reading opens you to a world of new ideas. As the famous author C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know that we are not alone.”
People tell me that here in Huánuco, Peru children can finish their primary education without ever reading a complete book. If that is true, we have a big problem. Schools here need to change. Reading needs to be the number one priority in education. It needs to be a priority for our region.
In English, there is a word that describes people who read. Such people are called “literate.” For example, a person is literate if they have the ability to understand and use printed information. Literature is printed information: books, magazines, newspapers. And a person who uses literature is literate. A literacy rate tells how many people are literate.
One can study literacy rates. Here in Huánuco, Peru there is a problem with our literacy rate. While there are worse literacy rates in the world, there is a gap in the literacy rate here between men and women. Sixteen point six percent of adults from Huánuco cannot read. But 23.8 percent of women cannot read as compared to 9.5 percent of men. (See: http://www.globalissues.org).
To develop our region we need to help ALL citizens to read: BOTH men and women. And if we want better leaders we need better literacy. It has been said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
There is an important connection between literacy and justice. To develop a love for justice, we need to develop a love for reading.
The facts are in. Research tells us: raise the literacy rates in a community and it will help reduce crime and repeat offenders.
- Criminals have lower average literacy levels than other citizens.
- Neighborhoods with lower literacy rates have higher crime rates.
- Literate people are less likely to be accidentally put in jail.
- Even literacy programs in prisons have good outcomes (such as being able to help ex-convicts find and maintain jobs) and reduce rates of repeat offenders.
The former slave Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” So, reading is an important way to keep freedom and justice in society.
Don’t be alone. Seek freedom. Seek justice. Learn to read. Teach to read.
I’m Leon Smith.