The Great Plains Literacy Council will be observing International Literacy Day on Sunday, Sept. 8. Informational cards about how literacy is needed for adults in the area will be distributed at church services and some have been presented at organizations and businesses to promote literacy and demonstrate the educational commitment. The Great Plains Literacy Council has promoted literacy every day since 1985 when this organization started, not just on Sept. 8.
“The United Nations estimates that more than 780 million of the world’s adults lack literacy skills,” said Jacquelyn Parrish, board president of the Great Plains Literacy Council. “Illiteracy is not only a problem in other countries, but also here in our country and state. It is estimated that 14% of Oklahoma adults function at the Below Basic prose literacy level and, as an example, can only sign a form. The estimates for the state also show that 29% have only Basic reading skills of English and, as an example, can perform simple everyday literacy activities, but cannot identify a specific location on a map.”
The Great Plains Literacy Council has connection with people from many countries outside of the USA. Because communication is so important when living here, adults who have English as a Second Language (ESL) contact this nonprofit service organization through the Southern Prairie Library System in Jackson and Harmon Counties for basically two reasons. The need for English literacy skills can be provided to adult learners who are trying to learn the language. Another reason for contacting the GPLC is to be trained as a volunteer tutor to help adults learn to read, write or speak English better.
For the past 28 years, the Great Plains Literacy Council has been making a difference in the lives of adult learners in one-to-one and small group tutoring with volunteer tutors. About 80% of the adult learners enrolled at the local literacy service speak languages other than English. In the past year, 137 adult learners were enrolled.
The Great Plains Literacy Council gives praise and recognition to the dedication of volunteer literacy tutors and the achievements of adult learners. The State Legislature and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries have also been supportive of literacy and provided grant funding to Great Plains Literacy Council and the Southern Prairie Library System for educational literacy programs. The Great Plains Literacy Council praises the dedication of volunteer literacy tutors.
In the past year, 35 active tutors opened up a new world by teaching their students to read better. These tutors donated over 2,200 hours to the program. Many tutors have commented that while teaching someone to read, write or speak English, the tutors were surprised what they learned also more about various topics or the language. There is always a need for more volunteers.
Any interested person is requested to call the Altus Library at 580-477-2890. The Great Plains Literacy Council office is located at the Altus Public Library, 421 N. Hudson, in Altus.