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Gadsden State to observe Family Literacy Week

Gadsden State Community College’s Adult Education Services will join with other advocates across the country to recognize National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week Sept. 19-25. 

“The annual observance raises public awareness about the need for and value of adult education and family literacy,” said Patti Wilkins, director of Gadsden State’s Adult Education Services. “Its goal is to increase awareness for access to basic education programs for U.S. adults with low literacy, numeracy and digital skills and increase the number of people who understand the vital role adult education and family literacy plays in our nation’s well-being.”

Adult Education Services has planned a week of observance of Family Literacy Week, including Storytime with Swoop from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Adult Education Building on the Ayers Campus. The event is free.

“Children of our Adult Education Program are invited to participate in Storytime with Swoop,” she said. “We will have a guest storyteller along with Swoop, who is Gadsden State’s mascot very popular with children. We will also give them free books donated by the Gadsden Public Library and a Gadsden State swag bag.”  

Social media posts and videos targeting adult and family literacy will post to the social media platforms of Gadsden State as well as the Adult Education Services’ Facebook page, she said.

According to the National Literacy Directory, more than 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do math and use technology above a third-grade level.  The recent Program for the International Assessment of Adult Literacy (PIAAC) examined the U.S. and 23 other industrialized countries and found that the U.S. average literacy score was below the international average — ranking 16th out of 24 countries. 

“It is so important for the literacy score to improve among Americans,” Wilkins said. “There is a direct correlation between the low literacy rate and a low paycheck. It affects people’s health, their economic status and their quality of life. I would say that every social issue is impacted by low literacy.”

Recent findings have determined the following:

  • Among individuals with below basic skills 35 percent are employed full time, while 64 percent in the proficient category have full-time jobs. 
  • The salaries of adults with below-basic literacy skills are, on average, $28,000 less than salaries of adults with proficient skills.
  • Women with low literacy skills are twice as likely as men to be in the lowest earnings category of $300 a week or less.
  • Minimum wage workers increased wages by 18 to 25 percent within 18 months of exiting an adult education program.

Gadsden State’s Adult Education Services is committed to the mission of helping individuals advance their academic skills through various services and courses available in various locations in Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne and Etowah counties. Find out more by visiting www.gadsdenstate.edu/adulted.

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Joey Weaver

Joey Weaver has worked for WEIS Radio in Centre as the Assistant News Director since 2008 covering news in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia.

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