Some might think it’s a bit self-serving for a newspaper to be speaking about literacy, but it’s also vital. In St. Landry Parish, 41 percent of adults fall into the category of Level 1 literacy, meaning they read at or below the fifth-grade level.
It’s wonderful that programs like the one Mrs. McManus is working on, and the Book Buddies program that LSUE runs, are trying to do something about that by encouraging reading at a young age.
But there’s another side to the coin, and that’s adult illiteracy.
My grandfather read at the fourth-grade level, and that served him just fine when he was a mechanic and a truck driver.
But times are changing, and even some of the most labor-intensive jobs require at least a seventh-grade reading level.
That’s where programs like VITA (Volunteer Instructors Teaching Adults) can come in.
VITA volunteers give a few hours each week to meet with adults who want to learn how to read.
The program is run out of Lafayette, but operates a branch office in Opelousas.
Volunteers are asked to attend a five-hour training session in Lafayette and commit to a year of tutoring after being paired with a student.
Students and tutors work one-on-one for approximately four hours a week.
Most students, after a year, are able to fill out a job application, read the newspaper, and do many other things the rest of us take for granted.
The hardest part for many is to make that first step. If you know someone who has difficulty and would like to learn, or if you’d like to volunteer as a literacy tutor, the number for VITA is 942-1511.