The Union Recorder

Opinion

January 15, 2013

Literacy fair presents opportunity

MILLEDGEVILLE — Later this month the local community will play host to its first-ever literacy fair, highlighting literacy initiatives and family development opportunities in a consolidated event. This free event is open to the public and aims to provide information and materials all under one roof with one objective — to help increase the focus on the value of literacy, family literacy in particular, in the community.

Slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Milledgeville Mall, the Literacy Fair will feature local schools, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

The event is hosted by the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce’s Partners for Progress Workforce Development Committee.

The workforce development committee’s focus on literacy through this event highlights the ever-present link between literacy, job preparedness and economic development. Neither of these areas can be fruitful without the success of the others.

How important are the success of all three elements to the overall success of Baldwin County? Look no further than the data. National estimates indicated that low literacy levels result in $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime and loss of tax revenue. Today’s high school dropouts earn an average of almost $9,000 less annually than a person with a GED or high school diploma, and the wage gap only widens as education levels increase.

While the local high school dropout rate has been on a downward trajectory in recent years, still hovering in the mid-70 percent range, it should be evident to everyone that the strain of illiteracy is not just a problem for the individual but it also hinders the growth and progress of the community at-large. The upcoming literacy fair is an opportunity for families — parents and other adults with a desire to go back to school or further their education and local students — to learn more about valuable resources that can help change the course of their futures.

By taking advantage of this valuable opportunity, all of Baldwin County success.

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