Monday, July 04, 2011

Functional Literacy

This Saturday weekend, we were on our way to visit a friend's father who had recently been hospitalised for a complicated lung condition. We were not sure what we should take for him by way of wishing him health, so we decided to play safe and buy a card (we finally ended up buying a stick of mauve orchid as well). We were on our way to the closest mall, where there is an Archies, but spotted an unassuming gift-shop on our way by the Unnayan Commercial Complex nearby. We walked in and were pleasantly surprised to find that it stocked quite a variety of greetings cards. We told the owner that we wanted a 'Get Well Soon' card. I soon gathered that he could not read, by the way he held the cards close to his eyes and peered at them and ran his fingers over the writing slowly, as children do when they have just picked up letters of the alphabet and are trying to put them together to make sense. I pointed out the relevant card but my heart was filled with an indescribable sense of sadness. Here was a man who ran a shop in a posh area but didn't have the skills to master his possessions and sell them. It reminded me of the concept of functional literacy we had learned in our Education classes.
Mere signing one's name didn't qualify one as literate. One needed to master the 3 R-s (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic) to be able to apply one's literacy productively in daily life.
I think I bought the flowers after that more out of a sense of collective guilt, somehow.

1 comment:

little boxes said...

you just didnt buy the flowers.
you thought.that's a lot i itself


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