National Literacy Week Sept. 10-14: Coweta GED graduation highlights upcoming Week
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Approximately one in five American adults cannot read or write, and more than one million Georgians over the age of 18 have neither completed high school nor earned a GED high school equivalency diploma.
On Thursday, those statistics will be reduced by 30 as Coweta area GED graduates walk across the Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts stage in Newnan and receive their diplomas. The 7 p.m. ceremony will be a highlight of Literacy Week.
CLICK’s mission is “to enable all individuals to improve their quality of life through literacy,” a vital undertaking when more than 12,000 Cowetans over the age of 18 do not have high school diplomas, according to CLICK director Lisa Johnston.
“While the educational level of adults in Coweta has increased significantly through the last 10 years, it remains important to serve this segment of the population for so many reasons,” Johnston said. “Being literate is not just learning how to read, it also allows you to function in daily life at a higher level. Consider how many choices we make daily that require reading, computing and decision making. When you go to the grocery store you are reading labels and prices. When you meet with a doctor you are signing forms and reading prescription labels.
“Being literate empowers parents to be able to read to their children and help them with their homework,” Johnston added. “If you don’t have strong literacy skills, all these activities are challenging.”
Johnston said 75 percent of Georgia prison inmates and 22.4 percent of Cowetans living in poverty do not have a high school diploma.
“The impact of low literacy skills on our economy is significant,” Johnston said. “Our community will be a lot stronger if fewer students drop out of high school, and more students who have dropped out get a GED. Their chances of pursuing post-secondary education or finding employment are a lot stronger, and that fosters a positive impact for families and our community.”
In his statewide Literacy Week proclamation, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal demanded increased public awareness of what he called the “social problem” of illiteracy, asking for broader support for volunteer literacy programs as well as literacy programs in public libraries, workplaces and schools.
To bring attention to the crisis, Deal included the following in his proclamation:
• Illiteracy rates are highest among the economically disadvantaged.
• Illiteracy is closely associated with unemployment, high crime rates and welfare dependency.
• Illiterate parents are unable to teach their children how to read a medicine bottle, follow a bus schedule, do comparative shopping, make correct change or prepare school homework, perpetuating the illiteracy cycle.
West Georgia Technical College offers free GED and ESL — English as a second language — classes at Central Educational Center in Newnan. In honor of Literacy Week, WGTC is giving adult learners an opportunity to take GED practice tests at no cost at several of its campuses. For information on classes or free testing, call – toll-free – 855-500-GEDS.