Illiteracy: Essay on Causes and Effects of Illiteracy

Illiteracy can be defined as the state where one is not able to read or write due to either lack of any education or lack of sufficient education. In the modern world, a significant percentage of the population still remains illiterate despite the advancement and spread of education.

Causes of illiteracy

One of the major causes of illiteracy is having parents who are illiterate. When parents are illiterate, they usually do not give a lot of concern on their children’s education hence causing the rise of illiteracy levels.

Illiteracy is also caused by the lack of reading materials. When children or adults do not have any books or materials to write on, it becomes difficult for them to learn how to read and write.

Illiteracy is also caused by increased poverty levels. Poverty has led to many people lacking fees to pay for their education or even lack money to buy materials like books and pens.

Another cause of illiteracy is learning disabilities that occur when one is still a child. Some of these conditions like dyslexia cause it very difficult for someone to understand whatever they read or write.

Another cause of illiteracy is child labour. Many of the children in underdeveloped countries try to get jobs and hence skip education so as to help in fending for their families.

The lack of well trained teachers also causes illiteracy. When pupils or students go to school and lack great teachers to help them with their education, the quality of education is compromised.

Illiteracy is also caused by social or cultural priorities. This may include gender priorities where boys are allowed to go to school but girls remain at home.

Another cause of the rise of illiteracy is the huge number of orphans and street children. They lack the means of getting meaningful education.

Illiteracy also occurs as a result of lack of schools. This happens in underdeveloped countries and hence children cannot get enough education.

Effects of illiteracy

Illiteracy causes an increase in poverty levels. This is because people with little or no education end up getting low paying jobs.

Another effect of illiteracy is increased crime rates in the society. When people lack jobs, they result into stealing so as to fend for their families.

Illiteracy also results in increased dependency ratios. Since illiterate people end up becoming jobless, they rely on the financial support of their friends and family.

People who are illiterate also have low self esteem. Previous studies have proven that people who are educated have higher confidence levels that people with little or no education.

Since illiteracy limits ones access to information, it may also result into poor health conditions. These people may not learn how to prevent certain diseases or how to get medication for illnesses.

Illiteracy also results into slow development of the society. A society with few literate people experiences little or no growth due to high poverty levels.

When people in the society become illiterate, it results into generational illiteracy. This is where children become illiterate as a result of their parents illiteracy.

A country with high illiteracy levels suffers from low GDP levels since the production in that country is low.

Illiteracy also causes lack of people participating in community activities. This is because they cannot perceive issues affecting the society.


Illiteracy is the major cause of the major societal issues that are present in the world and also the major cause of poverty. Governments and individuals should ensure that they take steps to ensure that they curb illiteracy in the society.

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