WBEZ | literacy http://www.wbez.org/tags/literacy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: Keeping kids in school in India http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-keeping-kids-school-india-110625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga-pratham.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to UNICEF, in India, more than 70 percent of children drop out before finishing school. <a href="http://www.prathamusa.org">Pratham USA</a>, co-founded by Yogi Patel, is dedicated to youth education, literacy and vocational training in India and it reports that over half of India&rsquo;s children in the 5th grade can&rsquo;t read at a 2nd grade level. We&#39;ll talk with Raj Rajaram, president of Pratham USA, about the work they&#39;re doing to try to improve education and opportunity for children in India.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Pratham USA Chicago Walk-a-thon:</strong></p><p><strong>Walk or Run For Literacy</strong></p><p><strong>Sunday, August 17, 2014, 9:00 AM</strong></p><p><strong>Harms Wood Forest Preserve (Grove 3), Morton Grove, IL</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160137303&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-keeping-kids-school-india-110625 Global Activism: 'ConTextos' aiding children in Central America through literacy education http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-aiding-children-central-america-through-literacy <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GA-debra_gittler.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-5ec3e45c-419f-6c53-a54b-a65dded641a7">While Central American children flood into the U.S. to escape crime &amp; poverty, Chicagoan Debra Gittler works to create conditions on-the-ground through literacy education, opportunity &amp; advocacy, that she hopes will help these children thrive and keep them in their home countries. Debra moved to Central America to start <a href="http://contextos.org/">ConTextos</a>. The group says &ldquo;[We do] more than just develop the mechanical skills of sounding out words. We encourage kids to think deeply, to be curious, and to question their environment.&rdquo; For <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em>, Gittler tells us how her work is spreading across Central America.</span></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5ec3e45c-4188-13cc-6742-dee95fbd88c5"><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/159145115&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Just the other day, I was at a school in Usulutan, one of the areas of El Salvador that has had an explosion of violence post the gang truce. I sat with Manuel, a first grader, who told me: &quot;I have lots of family in the United States,&quot; he explained. &quot;Cousins and aunts and uncles. But I want to stay here in El Salvador. I like my school.&quot;</p><p>When we asked Debra to tell us about the importance of her work, she wrote:</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">I want to emphasize the relevance of our work in Central America, especially given the refugee kids at the border. To emphasize that the reality is, these kids have access to schools, but no education; ConTextos changes that. We are growing throughout the region and looking for greater support in our hometown here in Chicago. Those kids at the border... those are the same kids that we serve.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">Just the other day, I was at a school in Usulutan, one of the areas of El Salvador that has had an explosion of violence post the gang truce. I sat with Manuel, a first grader, who told me: &quot;I have lots of family in the United States,&quot; he explained. &quot;Cousins and aunts and uncles. But I want to stay here in El Salvador. I like my school.&quot;</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">Before ConTextos, Manuel had no books and his entire experience was copy and dictation. He went to school four hours a day. Now, his school is open to him all day long, he has access to books and other materials, and he has real conversations in his classroom. We read a book called &quot;Where are the Giants&quot; about hidden magic in the world. Manuel says to me (I&#39;m translating): &quot;You know--and this isn&#39;t in the news, but it&#39;s true-- I&#39;ve heard that there are fairies in Mexico...&quot;</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">I asked his teacher about Manuel. She said that before, she used to scold him for his imagination. Now she encourages it. Her students are encouraged to think and imagine and explore. Classroom attendance is up.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">And this school is in the midst of gang territory. MS 18 is scribbled on the walls of the school. Manuel&#39;s photo is below.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">It&#39;s important to realize that even though we are a literacy organization-- and the only org in the region with the goal and implementation in multiple countries; whereas Africa and Asia have multiple orgs addressing the lack of resources and training across countries, Central Am/ Latin Am have NONE-- we go far beyond just teaching reading.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">At one of our schools--an area of extreme poverty where most live as subsistence farmers-- the school ran out of space for their school garden. &quot;Why can&#39;t we plant on the roof?&quot; asked one of the 5th graders. At first, the teacher balked that it was a ridiculous idea. Now they are growing basil and mint on their roof. The teacher explained: &quot;by changing how we teach-- asking questions, encouraging the kids to question-- we&#39;ve seen changes in how they approach life.&quot; These kids live in areas with plenty of problems. With ConTextos&#39; intervention, they&#39;re encouraged to think about those problems.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">That school was one of our first schools. There&#39;s now 13 schools in their network. Kids read at a &quot;1st world&quot; level. The Ministry uses the schools as models for teacher development.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-aiding-children-central-america-through-literacy Global Activism: Bookwallah update on bringing books to Orphans in India http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-bookwallah-update-bringing-books-orphans-india-109505 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bookwallah.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Seena Jacob is founder and CEO of <a href="http://www.bookwallah.org">Bookwallah</a> Organization. &ldquo;Bookwallah&rdquo; is a Hindi word that means &ldquo;book peddler.&rdquo; Her group works to give books and provide quality libraries to orphans in India. Seena is just back from India to give us an update.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123417608&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Seena on why this matters to us:</p><p>&ldquo;Why is this important, especially to people who may feel they aren&rsquo;t directly impacted? The world is globally connected and we learned that particularly during the Great Recession. But, if you know a child has suffered or has endured hardship such as HIV, abuse, living in brothels and you have a chance to make a difference in their lives -- bring hope, happiness, and smiles -- through the simple gift of a book-- does it matter where they live? A child is a child no matter where they live in the world. But, there are truly global challenges such as 793 million people who cannot read, 143 million orphans in the world who have undergone some major things in life. A [dollar] can go a long way in the developing world. So, to know that you can make a difference, be spiritually fulfilled in changing the life of one child, opening their world, should be a great motivator, particularly during this holiday season.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 09:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-bookwallah-update-bringing-books-orphans-india-109505 Teacher brings library close to home for her Little Village neighbors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/teacher-brings-library-close-home-her-little-village-neighbors-106825 <p><p>The enclosed porch behind Rachel Perveiler&rsquo;s Little Village apartment is crammed with shelves stuffed with books and games. It&rsquo;s also filled with children from her neighborhood.</p><p>Perveiler&rsquo;s porch is the meeting place for &ldquo;La Biblioteca del Personas,&rdquo; or the People&rsquo;s Library. Meeting here has become a weekly ritual for Perveiler and the children in her neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay boys, are you turning in books?&rdquo; Perveiler asked brothers Joaquin and Jose Camacho.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to still keep this one, but I&rsquo;m returning this one back.&rdquo; Joaquin said.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay, go ahead, put it back,&rdquo; Perveiler said.</p><p>As the children looked through the shelves, pulling out books, Perveiler asked 9-year old Jaylene Rios what she thought of her most recent selection.</p><p>&ldquo;Did you like Charlotte&rsquo;s Web, or no?&rdquo; Perveiler asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh yeah. I&rsquo;m barely right there,&rdquo; Jaylene said, as she pointed to a place toward the beginning of the book.</p><p>&ldquo;The first chapter? Okay, so you liked it?&rdquo; Perveiler asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Jaylene said.</p><p>Since the library began two years ago, the teacher said she&rsquo;s watched the kids develop what she hopes will become a life-long reading habit, and she&rsquo;s seen their reading skills improve.</p><p>She points to Jaylene, who started with Frog and Toad are Friends and has now moved on to Charlotte&rsquo;s Web.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen their interests grow,&rdquo; Perveiler said. Rather than just coming over because I&rsquo;m here and I&rsquo;m a new person, they come over actually to check out books, and they want to get a new book or they want to get a book that they know their friend just read.&rdquo;</p><p>The library began when the 23-year-old moved to Little Village back in 2011 to be close to her first job as a special education teacher at nearby Finkl Academy.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Porch%20Library%202%20-%20Rachel%20and%20Joaquin%281%29.JPG" style="float: right; height: 263px; width: 350px;" title="Joaquin Camacho talks with Rachel Perveiler as she checks in books. Perveiler uses a spiral notebook to keep track of what books are currently checked out. (WBEZ/Rebecca Kruth)" />Perveiler was moving into her apartment when some of the neighbor kids saw her carrying boxes.</p><p>&ldquo;They offered to help carry the boxes in. When they found out they were children&rsquo;s books, they were curious to see why [I had] all these children&rsquo;s books,&rdquo; Perveiler said.</p><p>The books were for her classroom, but since it was still summer, the kids asked if they could borrow them. They sat on her porch, read the books and returned them the same afternoon.</p><p>Word about the books soon spread in the neighborhood, and the children began coming to Perveiler&rsquo;s regularly. As the library evolved, the group members decided they needed to have some rules and expectations for members. They even developed a pledge, which greets visitors as they enter the library.</p><p>Joaquin Camacho, 9,&nbsp; read the hand-lettered poster out loud.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;As a member of the library, I pledge to be a role model. I promise to [show] respect and responsibility,&rdquo; Joaquin said. &ldquo;I promise these in the name of leadership, because the world needs leaders.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Before they can use the library, kids must also complete a special task. Each new member makes a bookmark to take home. After a week, they have to bring it back to Perveiler in good shape to prove they&rsquo;re responsible. If it&rsquo;s ruined, they have to do it again before they can check out a book.</p><p>Today, the library has around 500 books, mostly donations from friends and family. But, as Joaquin said, not all of the books come from outside sources.</p><p>&ldquo;My brother, Jose, and I are going to make a comic book, The Adventures of Big Fist and Lightning Man,&rdquo; Joaquin said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to put it in the library with the other comics.&rdquo;</p><p>The library doesn&rsquo;t just have books for children: Leslie Luna, 9, said her father uses the library to improve his English.</p><p>&ldquo;He talks Spanish, and so he&rsquo;s practicing his English,&rdquo; Leslie said. &ldquo;When he was in Mexico he almost dropped out of school, because he needed to work for his family, so he didn&rsquo;t get to do a lot of education in his life.&rdquo;</p><p>Leslie said she chooses books for the two of them to read together. &ldquo;I like to help him, a lot,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When Perveiler isn&rsquo;t available at the makeshift library, her boyfriend, Michael Aumiller, helps fill in. He said he&rsquo;s also the unofficial homework helper.</p><p>&ldquo;They have limited access to internet and that sort of thing, so they like to borrow my encyclopedias. I&rsquo;ll flag things down that are important,&rdquo; Aumiller said.</p><p>Aumiller said in neighborhoods facing challenges like Little Village, it&rsquo;s important to have an involved</p><p>network of neighbors.</p><p>&ldquo;Since the library started, I&rsquo;ve noticed we just have a greater sense of connection to the community,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I just think that is something that is very important to the overall health of Drake Avenue.&rdquo;</p><p>As for Perveiler, she hopes that sense of community spreads to the kids, along with improved literacy skills.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to see their interest in reading and their interest in each other socially, as friendships in their community, continue to grow,&rdquo; Perveiler said. &ldquo;If the space remains on the back porch always, that is perfectly fine with me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Rebecca Kruth is a WBEZ Arts and Culture Desk intern. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/rjkruth" target="_blank">@rjkruth</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 03:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/teacher-brings-library-close-home-her-little-village-neighbors-106825 Global Activism: Bookfriends International delivers books to kids in Africa http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-bookfriends-international-delivers-books-kids-africa-104971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bookfriends_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wauconda couple Steve and Paulie Kutschat have a deep love for books. After a trip to Africa, the Kutschat&rsquo;s founded <a href="http://www.bookfriends.org/">Bookfriends International</a>, a nonprofit providing educational resources to secondary school-age children in Africa.</p><p>Bookfriends gives children text books, library books and reference materials in short supply. Donated books come from middle schools, high schools, libraries, individuals, book drives and book publishing companies.</p><p>&ldquo;It is not our goal to change their culture, their ideas or background. We are simply providing the student&rsquo;s opportunity through books to see the rest of the world,&rdquo; the Kutschats say.</p><p><em><strong>You can meet Global Activists like the Kutschat&#39;s at the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/air-events-6th-annual-global-activism-expo-102172">2013 Global Activism Expo</a>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 16:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-bookfriends-international-delivers-books-kids-africa-104971 Literacy and adult education in North Lawndale http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/literacy-and-adult-education-north-lawndale-101983 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_0969.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>On August 24, the Barber Shop Show joined forces with Front and Center to talk low literacy and adult education in North Lawndale.&nbsp;In the Great Lakes region, one third of adults are low-literate. This means they have trouble with ordinary tasks like filling out a job application.</p><p>When hard times hit the region, North Lawndale is hit harder. The unemployment rate in this neighborhood is about three times the city&rsquo;s average. Almost half of families here live below the poverty line.</p><p>When it comes to getting more North Lawndale residents employed and lifting their earning potential, the key may be improving literacy.&nbsp;Raising adult education levels seems like a clear-cut way to increase employment and earnings. But making it happen isn&rsquo;t easy.</p><p>To find out more, Richard Steele and Kimbriell Kelly spoke with Nicole Hicks, a woman who recently overcame her fear of being the oldest person in class to earn her GED at age forty.</p><p>Later in the show, we heard from employer Mark O&rsquo;Hara. A GED and solid reading and writing skills are a requirement at his company. We learned about his challenges finding workers with the skills to kill bugs, and how his company, Andersen Pest Solutions, aims to address the skills gap.</p><p>After that, we were joined by Darren Tillis and Tameeka Christian with the North Lawndale Community Action Council on Education. Darren and Tameeka are working to improve parent engagement in North Lawndale schools. Key to their strategy is increasing literacy.</p><p><em>Every Friday, Vocalo.org heads to Carter&#39;s Barber Shop in North Lawndale for the live broadcast of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vocalo.org/barbershop-show/" target="_blank">The Barber Shop Show</a>. &nbsp;Hosted by the Chicago Reporter&#39;s Kimbriell Kelly and WBEZ&#39;s Richard Steele,&nbsp;The Barber Shop Show is a weekly dose of real talk, straight from the shop floor.</em></p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/literacy-and-adult-education-north-lawndale-101983 Teachers engage teens with realistic fiction, 'street literature' http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/teachers-engage-teens-realistic-fiction-street-literature-99695 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/teen_reading_flickr_holtsman_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Front and Center visited classrooms around Chicagoland to hear what gets teens excited about reading.</p><p>Amy Correa teaches sixth and seventh grade at Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago. She thinks the classics are important, but is worried that the new <a href="http://www.corestandards.org/" target="_blank">Common Core</a> standards emphasize this type of literature too much. She says her students gobble up realistic fiction novels, and they can learn how to model behavior by reading stories about teens in tough situations. Listen to Correa&#39;s classroom and hear more about how she gets kids excited about reading:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339608200-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Amy%20Correa%20WEB.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Mike Henry is a literacy coach and teacher at Reavis High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. His approach to getting high school students excited about reading relies on student choice in reading materials. He says giving students options of realistic fiction gets them more engaged in reading. Listen to Henry&#39;s classroom and hear more about how he gets reluctant readers to build up their reading stamina:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339608220-3" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Mike%20Henry%20WEB.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 15 Jun 2012 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/teachers-engage-teens-realistic-fiction-street-literature-99695 Live call-in: From school to work, the low-literacy problem http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/live-call-school-work-low-literacy-problem-100098 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_garryknight.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thursday on the <em>Afternoon Shift</em>, host Steve Edwards will talk with experts about our continuing literacy problem. We&rsquo;ll discuss why it happens and who&rsquo;s trying to fix it.</p><p>Our panel will include Betsy Rubin, an Adult &amp; Family Literacy Specialist at <a href="http://www.litworks.org/" target="_blank">Literacy Works</a> in Chicago. Rubin has over 30 years experience in adult basic education, English as a Second Language and family literacy programming. She is the author and editor of several adult education textbooks.</p><p><a href="http://www.erikson.edu/default/faculty/faclistings/jane_fleming.aspx">Jane Fleming</a> started teaching as a middle school math teacher 23 years ago in Washington, D.C.&nbsp; She discovered that many of her students struggled with math because they couldn&#39;t read well, so she went back to school and became a reading specialist. Now an associate professor at the Erikson Institute, most of Fleming&#39;s work focuses on accelerating literacy learning for children in urban public schools.</p><p>Gloria Mwase will also join the conversation. Mwase is the program director for <a href="http://www.jff.org" target="_blank">Jobs for our Future</a>, where her work centers on helping low-skilled adults across the nation improve their skills and increase their opportunities for secure employment.</p><p>We also want to hear from you during the show.</p><p>Tell us why you think we still have a problem of low-literacy. What role does technology play?</p><p>How does it affect you? In the store or on the phone with customer service? Working alongside others? And who&rsquo;s responsible for fixing the problem? Parents? Teachers? Employers? Society?</p><p>We&#39;ll be on-air today talking about these issues. Join us at 312-923-9239 starting at 2 p.m. Central.</p></p> Thu, 14 Jun 2012 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/live-call-school-work-low-literacy-problem-100098 Literacy and book pop culture: A global survey http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/segment/literacy-and-book-pop-culture-global-survey-99986 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120124123031.jpg" title="Muslims walk in at the 2012 Jaipur Literature Festival in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. (AP/Manish Swarup)" /></div><p>This month WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center">Front &amp; Center</a> has been taking an in-depth look at the impact of low-literacy in the Great Lakes region. As they wrap up their coverage of how reading and writing skills impact Americans&rsquo; chances for academic success and employment, <em>Worldview</em> looks at the culture of literacy in India, Latin America and Afghanistan.</p><p><strong>India: Where writers are stars</strong></p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339439985-3" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/wv_20120611a.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>India&rsquo;s book industry is booming &ndash; English language authors are treated like Bollywood stars, complete with lines for autographs and coverage by the paparrazi. <a href="http://www.chetanbhagat.com/" target="_blank">Chetan Baghat</a>, India&rsquo;s all-time best selling author, has over 930,000 followers on Twitter and two Bollywood adaptations under his belt.</p><p>India&#39;s glamorous book festivals have become so popular in the international literary scene that even Oprah Winfrey attended one of this year&rsquo;s festivals. While authors hold fancy book release parties in the western tradition, most of the country is still buying books out of stacks in road side stalls. And in Rajasthan, the western state which hosts one literary festival, the literacy rate is only 64 percent &ndash; well below the national average of 74 percent, according to a 2011 census.</p><p><a href="http://www.tajmahalfoxtrot.com/?page_id=7" target="_blank">Naresh Fernandes</a>, former Editor-in-Chief of <em>Time Out Bangalore</em>, and author <a href="http://www.vikramchandra.com/" target="_blank">Vikram Chandra</a> fill us in on the state of reading and writing in India.</p><p><strong>Latin America: Where books are status objects</strong></p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339439985-4" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/wv_20120611b.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>As is the case in India, in much of Latin America, book fairs are celebrity events akin to Hollywood film premiers. Magazines and books, especially in provinces outside the cities, are held in extremely high regard.</p><p>Accessibility is on the rise due to an improving economic climate in Latin America. Development has also led to a new rash of emerging journalists and non-fiction writers. Award-winning author Daniel Alarcón believes this comes from a growing need for self-interpretation. Alarcón has spent extensive time immersed in the literary culture of Peru and other Latin American countries, and&nbsp; observes noticeable differences between those countries and the United States. He joins <em>Worldview</em> to enumerate some of those differences.<br /><br /><strong>Afghanistan: Where literacy is a national security issue</strong></p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339439985-5" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/wv_20120611c.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The U.S. and NATO hope to build up the Afghan military and leave the country in their hands by 2014. Afghans are participating: People want a paycheck, so they&rsquo;re joining the armed forces and the police.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a major piece missing. It&rsquo;s estimated that only 28 percent of the Afghan population can read. <a href="http://www.stripes.com/news/coalition-troops-hope-to-improve-afghan-pilots-literacy-and-eventually-aviation-skills-1.172087">Literacy rates among Afghan forces recruits are even lower</a>, estimated at about 10 to 15 percent.</p><p>Reporter Heath Druzin has seen the illiteracy problem up close. His recent article for <em>Stars and Stripes</em> details how many Afghan recruits must start from scratch, and learn how to read and write. They don&#39;t need great computer skills &ndash; they&rsquo;re flying mostly old Russian helicopters &ndash; but they must still write flight logs and read repair manuals. And, if soldiers and police can&rsquo;t read ID badges, they don&rsquo;t know who should be allowed through security checkpoints. Illiteracy can somethings bring things to halt. Druzin said if an Afghan Humvee breaks down, it sometimes sits there because no one can read the repair manual.</p><p>Druzin joins <em>Worldview</em> to explore the depth of the problem.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/segment/literacy-and-book-pop-culture-global-survey-99986 Shrinking prison budgets eliminate educational opportunities http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/shrinking-prison-budgets-eliminate-educational-opportunities-99903 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/neal_portis_for_web_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marvin Marshall was 17 when he first went to prison for assault and battery. He dropped out of high school in junior year, made some bad choices and was arrested and imprisoned a few times.</p><p>&ldquo;It was pretty boring,&rdquo; Marshall said about prison. &ldquo;Your day consists of walking around aimlessly, just talking, you just read, or tried to work out.&nbsp; You don&rsquo;t have anything to occupy your time constructively, so you&rsquo;re either going to hang out with people who are going do more crime and find out a better way to do better crime.&rdquo;</p><p>About 60 percent of all prison inmates test below a sixth grade reading level.&nbsp; In The past, many states boasted good educational programs. Illinois was one of those states. East Moline and Vienna Correctional Center educated its prisoners.&nbsp; But budget cuts have affected ex-offenders&rsquo; educational opportunities.&nbsp;</p><p>Marshall had low reading skills. He wanted to take classes in prison, but couldn&rsquo;t.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;While in prison, school was available but only to first offenders,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you were there more than once wasn&rsquo;t able to get into the [high school] in IDOC.&nbsp; If you were in the IDOC, currently doing a sentence, you had more than one case, some type of clinch where you couldn&rsquo;t be in the GED class.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>After he got out of prison, Marshall turned his attention to the only thing he knew how to do.</p><p>&ldquo;I just went back to crime, just surviving,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a snowball effect. You get a bright idea and you&rsquo;re back in jail. It&rsquo;s been very difficult to adapt positively into society without education.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Millions of people enter prison with low literacy every year. And in the past, as many as 900 former inmates left Illinois prisons with a bachelor&rsquo;s degree each year. They did it by receiving need-based federal Pell grants.</p><p>But the Crime Control Act of 1994 barred future prisoners from getting financial assistance for bachelor&rsquo;s degrees. And Malcolm Young says that changed the educational programming within the prison system.</p><p>Young studies prisoner reentry and employment at Northwestern University School of Law. He says in the past, former inmates had plenty of opportunities to learn. They told him services were not difficult to find.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They described a prison system that was fairly rich with educational programs from secondary and post-secondary levels, vocational programs in a number of fields, and a lot of training and a lot of activities for younger inmates,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And these folks described to me coming through the system, maturing, getting their lives together, and coming out, making parole or being released and doing alright.&rdquo;</p><p><br />Young says community college involvement with prisons has reduced dramatically: more than 80 percent of educational programs involving community colleges have disappeared.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve heard the current system, the current (Department of Correction&rsquo;s) programming described as kind of a desert compared to what it used to be in the old days,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You can go into a number of Illinois prisons and still see the shops or locations where these programs were taught, but now they&rsquo;re empty.&rdquo;</p><p>Young says it wasn&rsquo;t just a change in prison finances. It was a change in mindset too.</p><p>He says as part of a national trend to get &ldquo;tough on crime&rdquo; directors of the Illinois Department of Corrections shifted the emphasis from rehabilitation and program work to keeping people locked up.</p><p>Deborah Denning, chief of program and support services for the Illinois Department of Corrections, says they still have educational programs now but many come as a result of thinking creatively.</p><p>&ldquo;If we can&#39;t find the colleges that will come in and help us to create those literacy programs then we have to use the resources within the facility, and look for those individuals who are capable of teaching others and want to do that,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Young says that&rsquo;s not enough. Prisons are overcrowded.&nbsp; And many inmates are there with short sentences.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s almost fictional that it&rsquo;s going to provide the kind of benefit that we really want,&rdquo; Young said. &ldquo;If you were an educator, what would you do in six months that would really make a difference?&nbsp; Whatever it is, we&rsquo;re not doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>That leaves non-profits and places like halfway houses to pick up the slack. Marshall turned to St. Leonard&rsquo;s Ministries in Chicago after his time in prison. He earned his high school diploma there, and is now taking a college prep course nearby.</p><p>Neal Portis, 30, lives at St. Leonard&rsquo;s Ministries in Chicago. He says the educational services offered there have made all the difference in his life after prison.</p><p>&ldquo;When people get back out here into this society they coming out with a chip on their shoulder,&rdquo; he said &ldquo;They&rsquo;re coming back out the same way that they went in.&rdquo;</p><p>Portis improved his writing skills in St. Leonard&rsquo;s classes. Now he&rsquo;s writing about his past experiences for fun.</p><p>&ldquo;When I write my little screenplays, it&rsquo;s safe, no one&rsquo;s being harmed,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&nbsp; &ldquo;Because I&rsquo;m using something that was at one point a negative thing and I just turned it into something positive.&nbsp; I just want to see how this turn out.&nbsp; I ain&rsquo;t got nothing to lose, so I&rsquo;m going to keep writing.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/shrinking-prison-budgets-eliminate-educational-opportunities-99903