International Literacy Day: Los Angeles community centers provide resources for illiterate adults

World Today

Sunday marks International Literacy Day. According to the U.N. agency UNESCO, one in five adults (some 775 million people) around the world lack minimum literacy skills.

The lowest regional rates are found in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, it also exists in many developed countries.

CGTN’s Ediz Tiyansan takes a look at what resources are available for the millions in southern California who do not have sufficient skills in reading and writing.

Victoria Cruz was tired of relying on others. That’s when she decided to go to the public library, to ask for help in learning how to read and write. Cruz reading words out loud with a tutor

After working with a tutor for three years, she’s not only found a good job, but also changed as a person. Her tutor Melinda Ratliff is passionate about helping people like Cruz.

“When I find out that a grown person doesn’t know how to read, that bothers me, and I want to do something to help alleviate it, if I possibly can, and that’s why I volunteer,” said Ratliff.

They meet every week as part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program. This is just one of 21 adult literacy centers in Los Angeles, serving hundreds of learners, who either lack formal education or aren’t native English speakers.

Surveys show that in this city alone, about a million people lack sufficient reading and writings skills. Library officials are now aiming to reach more people, by bringing their educational services onto a mobile application.

They believe literacy can help people achieve a variety of goals.

“We help adults really become better citizens because they’re learning how to support their children in school. They’re learning how to become voters for the first time,” said Kelly Tyler, managing librarian at the LA Public Library. “Some of them have a goal of becoming citizens, and the library can really help them with that and connect them with those sorts of goals.”

But for so many people with children, economic hardships, or health problems, going to a library may not be a priority.

That’s where the Hope Street Family Center comes in.

As part of this dual generational program, mother Gabriela Molina can drop off her two-year-old son at daycare so she can work on her literacy skills right next door.

Her nine-year-old son with autism used to come here for special need free of charge. And she already has plans to pay it forward.

“I want to study at the, I think here it’s called college or university, about children education. Like development of children. Regular children and special kids, too. Because I have a son who’s special. And I think this is my goal in the future to learn about that,” said Molina.

Having gained literacy skills, Molina has greater hopes for herself and her children.

Just like Victoria who’s now more inspired and motivated than ever before.