Literacy in SWLA

By Tiffany Blackmon - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – In Southwest Louisiana, 1 out of 4 people over the age of 16 do not have a high school diploma or GED. According to the Literacy Council, many of those people are either non-readers or read below an eighth grade level.

The Literacy Council is one place that seeks to decrease that number by proving it's never too late to go back to school.

At the Literacy Council, Josephine Jones is reaping the benefits of an opportunity some of her family members never had.

Jones stated, "Most of them didn't even get the chance to finish school."

Jones never finished high school either, but now much later in life she's gaining the necessary reading and writing skills to finish school, something important to people of all ages.

Tommeka Semien, Executive Director of the Literacy Council stated, "For every single person that I've ever talked to, they've always known that they've had trouble. It's not like they woke up one day when they were an adult [and said] you know what I can't read. They've known their entire lives that they've needed help."

However, seeking help is a problem that many who struggle to read and write encounter.

"There's a stigma associated with having a lack of ability to read because everything we do in our society is based on reading," said Semien.

When a person receives help, it's then they finally realize how much they limited their opportunities.

Semien stated, "We've actually had people come in and tell us that they've been offered promotions at work and they wouldn't take them because that next job required that they do a lot of reading and writing."

Like so many others, Jones relied on family and friends to read or write for her, but now she has a new sense of independence and is determined to get her high school diploma.

"Hoping I can get it since I've been going back to school," said Jones.

If you or someone you know struggles to read or write, you can call the Literacy Council at 494-7000.

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