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Literacy is the ability to read, write, listen and speak with comprehension to ensure effective communication.
The power of literacy lies in the enhanced capacity of people to make informed, rational and effective life choices. Research shows that literate people have a higher possibility of improved living standards; this means better self-esteem, better health, better job opportunities, higher wages and higher rates of success in achieving a comfortable standard of living for themselves and their families. It is evident that this has positive spin-offs for both community and country.
Reading stimulates the brain and develops the ability to learn and imagine. It encourages a wider world view, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills. The learning of all other subjects is predicated on the ability to read, write, listen and comprehend. Literacy is essential for all children, and in the developing world it is even more critically important for the girl-child.
Literate girls become informed women who make relevant decisions regarding their own reproductive health, and the health and welfare of their families, and who contribute to the improved living conditions of their communities. Literate women and their families can encourage an active, vibrant and financially achieving community that together erode the scourge of passivity, poverty, large families, general ill health, HIV/AIDS and food insecurity. When a girl is literate and educated, her whole family and her community are redeemed from socio-economic hardship though her influence on economic, social and human standards of living.
Developing nations desperately need to encourage the growth of an informed, skilled and productive workforce, or face negative growth, entrenched poverty and unemployment for present and future generations. This critical growth at all levels can only be achieved when South Africa is a fully literate society.