WBEZ | illiteracy http://www.wbez.org/tags/illiteracy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: ConTextos expands literacy programs to El Salvador prisons http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-expands-literacy-programs-el-salvador-prisons <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GA-ConTextos Prisoners.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-155d2028-16ca-6861-496d-14f15cdaca8d">When we first met Chicagoan and Global Activist, Debra Gittler, she wanted to &ldquo;create conditions on-the-ground through literacy education, opportunity and advocacy&rdquo; to help children in Central America thrive. To do this, Debra started the organization <a href="http://contextos.org/">ConTextos</a>. She now lives in El Salvador. For our </span><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism">Global Activism</a></em> segment, Gittler is back in Chicago and will update us on how her work has expanded into El Salvador&rsquo;s justice system.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/179980678&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Debra Gittler told us some of what she&rsquo;s been up to since her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-aiding-children-central-america-through-literacy">last Worldview appearance</a>:</em></p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">ConTextos has expanded into the Justice System in El Salvador and are now working with inmates in prisons, juveniles delinquents in the &quot;foster&quot; system, and the teachers and guards who work with both of these populations. The &quot;foster&quot; system in El Salvador is tangled octopus that oversees foster care, orphans, victims of child and sexual abuse, child criminals (including homicide), gangs, and deportees. Child deportees arriving back in El Salvador pretty much get off a bus and have to walk home; those without families end up in foster care.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">...we are overwhelmingly moved by the healing power of story to address issues of trauma in a country plagued by generations of violence. Many of the inmates we are working with are gang-affiliated and directly affected by the reality of transnationalism-- some inmates are English-speakers who spent most of their life in the US. We are just starting to work more and more with the juvenile population...It&#39;s been a fascinating journey to confront stereotypes about this population...</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">At the same time, ConTextos is just about to publish our student reading metrics. We use the Early Grade Reading Assessment to evaluate student reading outcomes; this is the same tool that USAID implements all over the world. Our results are stunning...</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">Finally, we are thrilled to start partnering with <em>Worldreader</em>, based in Africa, to bring e-readers into our schools.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">...We&#39;ve been working with iPads for quite a while as a tool to motivate writing, but e-readers provide a unique opportunity to bring unlimited numbers of text through an accessible, teacher-friendly (and rural-friendly) technology. We&#39;re still seeking funding to launch the initiative.</p></p> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-contextos-expands-literacy-programs-el-salvador-prisons 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 Adults without literacy: 48-year-old man learns to read http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/adults-without-literacy-48-year-old-man-learns-read-99571 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/davidkingpressrepublican_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When I meet David King, he&rsquo;s sitting in a basement classroom still wearing a knit cap and bright orange shirt.&nbsp; They&rsquo;re his uniform with the city utility department, where he works here in Plattsburgh, New York.&nbsp;He looks tough, his face weathered.&nbsp; Tattooed on the knuckles of one hand are four letters. H-A-T-E.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s intimidating until he grins and reaches into a canvas bag.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;This was the first book that I was taught &ndash; Little Bear&rsquo;s Friend,&rdquo; King says.</p><p>King is 48-years-old. He&rsquo;s worked as a farmer, a mechanic, and for the last decade or so as a handyman for the public works department. He says a couple of years ago, his boss urged him try a literacy course, as a way to better his life and improve his performance at work.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I did know my ABCs, but I didn&rsquo;t know what they meant,&rdquo; King said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s five vowels, the rest are all consonants. I didn&rsquo;t know that. I just thought that they were all ABCs.&quot;</p><p>By some estimates as many as one in eight American adults has extreme difficulty reading and writing.&nbsp;King has lived almost his entire life with crazy amounts of information flashing at him all the time, all of it white noise. He says he clearly had a learning disability. And by the time he was in elementary school in the early 1970s he had already been shunted into special education classes.</p><p>&ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t kind of like mingle with the others,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We were the retards.&rdquo;</p><p>The program didn&rsquo;t help his reading or writing. The frustration and the stigma made him hate school.&nbsp; He remembers going to middle school dances, the girls refusing even to talk with him.</p><p>&ldquo;Who wanted to go out with me?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I tried. If I could read and write&hellip;I could write a movie.&rdquo;</p><p>In high school, David moved to a new town. They put him in mainstream classes and he thought maybe he&rsquo;d make new friends, get a new start. That was the first time he tried to hide his illiteracy.</p><p>&ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t know what to do with me,&rdquo; King laughed. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re sixteen years old? You don&rsquo;t know how to read?&rdquo;</p><p>David started getting into trouble, fighting, drinking, and skipping school.&nbsp; Before long, he dropped out. David was strong, and found that he liked to work. But again and again, words were like a wall.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t fill out an application,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;My mom or my ex-wife would do it. I couldn&rsquo;t fill out an application to save my life.</p><p>The first job where David had to fill out time sheets, he figured out a way to smuggle the forms home so that someone else could write down the information. &nbsp;</p><p>He picked up other tricks, like never, ever going to a restaurant that didn&rsquo;t have pictures on the menus.</p><p>&ldquo;I asked the waitress, I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;You see this gravy you got on this hamburger right here? You think I can get that on my French fries,&rdquo; King said. &ldquo;And I&rsquo;d say you see these rolls over here? You think I could get an order of these rolls?&rsquo; And that&rsquo;s how I&rsquo;d get by.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>So David learned how to cope, but he says he still found himself in situations most of us take for granted &ndash; like taking his kids out for ice cream &ndash; where basic choices turned into dead ends.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d always have to get strawberry or vanilla,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;d see somebody with a fancy one, you know what I mean.&nbsp; I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Hey, what kind is that?&rsquo; They&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Well, read it, it&rsquo;s up on the board.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>He couldn&rsquo;t get credit cards because he couldn&rsquo;t read the statements. He went through a divorce and struggled to find people he could trust to read the paperwork.&nbsp;Even traveling, getting out on the highway was terrifying.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Holy cow. That is a nightmare,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I went up to Canada and I was going down the wrong street, bud.&nbsp; Cars were coming at me and everything.&rdquo;</p><p>Road signs were gibberish. Maps were meaningless.</p><p>&ldquo;I got on a subway and I didn&rsquo;t even know how to get back to my car,&rdquo; King said. &ldquo;Everybody says get on a train that&rsquo;ll take you right to New York City. What am I going to do when I get there?&nbsp; How am I going to get back?&nbsp; I&rsquo;m afraid to.&rdquo;</p><p>David still managed to piece together a full life. Since he couldn&rsquo;t read well enough to borrow money or get a mortgage, he built his own house, from the foundation to the rafters.&nbsp;He raised five kids in that house and he found the good job he has now with the city. But David says he never stopped thinking about what it might be like, trying again to learn to&nbsp;read.&nbsp;</p><p>He says after a lot of different experiments, he and his tutors worked out that the best way for him to work around his learning disability is with games &ndash; flashcards and scrabble and word puzzles.&nbsp;These days, King can read a McDonald&rsquo;s menu &ndash; ordering whatever flavor of milkshake he wants. He can read basic instructions, so that he&rsquo;s taken on new responsibilities at work.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;At least now when my grandkids come around, I can say, &lsquo;Papa wants to read you &lsquo;Cat in the Hat,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I know it sounds funny, it&rsquo;s a kid&rsquo;s book. But I couldn&rsquo;t read this to my kids.&rdquo;</p><p>King comes twice a week to work with a volunteer literacy tutor.&nbsp; Sometimes progress is agonizingly slow.&nbsp; But he&rsquo;s already made the biggest step. He is a reader. At the end of the session, he walks around the classroom, pointing to words at random, sounding them out, owning them one by one.</p></p> Tue, 29 May 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/adults-without-literacy-48-year-old-man-learns-read-99571