LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Jones County officials gathered Wednesday to fight against illiteracy.
The mayors of Laurel, Ellisville, Soso, Taylorsville and Sandersville declared the month of September Literacy Awareness Month at a luncheon held at The Pine Belt Adult Education Center in Laurel. The declaration is intended to inform Mississippians of the literacy problem in the state, said officials. The first signatures were added on Sept. 5, and more were added on Sept. 19.
The Council was formed, said organizers, to identify and recruit tutors and nonreaders so that the two could be matched.
Twenty-eight percent of Jones County Adults, age 16 or older, can't read or read very poorly, according to Gerald Harrison, Director of Adult Education for Jones County Schools, citing statistics from the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Sixty-one percent of Jones County residents can't read well enough to fill out a job application, according to the board.
Other counties' info follows:
- Covington - 33 percent can't read - 69 percent can't fill out a job application
- Forrest - 26 percent can't read - 55 percent can't fill out a job application
- Jasper - 39 percent can't read - 76 percent can't fill out a job application
- Jones - 28 percent can't read - 61 percent can't fill out a job application
- Lamar - 18 percent can't read - 45 percent can't fill out a job application
- Marion - 32 percent can't read - 69 percent can't fill out a job application
- Perry - 29 percent can't read - 65 percent can't fill out a job application
- Wayne - 33 percent can't read - 71 percent can't fill out a job application
You can see the full list at this link: http://www.mbcb.org/mission_strategy/wmu/literacy/stats.aspx
According to a National Adult Literacy Survey, more than 64 percent of the adults in Mississippi are at the lowest two levels of functional literacy proficiency. Mississippi has the lowest literacy rate in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
"There continues to be a great need for literacy training in our area for adults," says Harrison. "We have one in four adults approximately in this area and in the state of Mississippi that cannot read well enough to adequately fill out a job application, so were looking for volunteers to help teach those adults how to read. We're also looking for adults that need to learn how to read to come and be a part of our program."
The Pine Belt Adult Education Center also offers free job training and GED classes.
If you would like to volunteer or enroll as a student you can visit the Pine Belt Adult Education Center located in Laurel at 923-B Sawmill Rd. or call them at 601-649-4141.