Perspectives

Adult Literacy Efforts Make a Real Difference in Impoverished Areas of USA


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Although much of this country’s educational focus is on P-12 grades, adult education cannot be ignored and adult literacy education is proven to be valuable in breaking links to poverty and improving job possibilities for those who participate.
Adult literacy education improves a student’s abilities and possibilities across a lifespan.
Recently, the Patton College of Education at Ohio University became the first four year institution in Ohio to receive a special Aspire Grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to address adult literacy needs.
It has been called the first “GED to Ph.D. program” by John Carey, Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education.
The new program provides research opportunities for faculty and student engagement opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students as well as educational opportunities for a large part of the region’s citizenry.
The new program “will show the power of adult instruction in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving and have a positive impact on people’s lives in our region,” says Julie Barnhart Frances, the director of the Stevens Literacy Center within the Patton College of Education.
Teacher Amy Guda describes the resiliency of these adult students and highlights how adult learners attack their subjects with intensity once they get over their initial fears about education. Many have had a bad educational experience as a youngster and Guda makes particular efforts to overcome those past negative thoughts.
She says once students get over their initial qualms about the educational process they often become avid learners. Sometimes Guda says she sees herself as an educational partner and mentor more than a “traditional teacher.”
Amanda Ailiff, a mental health social worker, is an example of success. She quit school at 16, got a job but soon felt dissatisfied. After having two children, she returned to get her GED through an adult education program and went on to a two year Community College.
After completing her Associate’s Degree, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree. She looks at her life as being successful and she now works with prisoners with mental health issues and helps them successfully return to society upon their release.
She gives full credit for her current success to adult literacy education.