The Dangers of Illiteracy

Although the media have not explored the topic, economists frequently tie South African economic stagnation to adult illiteracy among the country’s disadvantaged groups. Continuing illiteracy among South Africa’s minorities threatens the nation’s continued economic development because it depends on people’s command of language. Although South Africa boasts a high literacy rate, which is one of the highest in the industrialized world, the disadvantaged minorities lag behind their European counterparts by a significant margin. Naturally, their lack of English language proficiency limits their educational achievement and reliable studies indicate that the majority of bilingual South Africans remain illiterate in both their primary languages and English. In the same way that South Africa rose above its bitter racial divisions in the 1990’s, it now must rise above its educational divisions in the new millennium. The nation now must take aggressive steps to eliminate illiteracy.