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Read and weep

YOU can read this, chew through the core of every word, and grasp what’s written, consider yourself blessed. You took choices that accrued some pluck and lots of luck. You just don’t survive—you thrive.

Millions of others aren’t so lucky: 11 million amongst us are left crawling in the dust, hardly knowing what horrible twist and turn may happen in their lives. In today’s knowledge-driven economies in which skills and competencies translate to higher per capita earnings, those millions are virtual lepers.

The lepers multiply like a contagion. The disease neither abates nor ceases.

We may mourn and weep: “11 million Filipinos lack the required literacy skills to provide livelihood for themselves and their families now and in the future, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).”

The findings were gleaned from a 2003 study—that means such millions swelled some more in numbers, the pestilence still spreads, more likely in quantum progression—and who can prevent them from, say, voting a nincompoop into high office?

DepEd elaborates: “This means that over 15 percent of our population (1) does not have the literacy skills they need to communicate effectively, (2) think critically, and (3) develop an appreciation of themselves, their society, and the broader global community.”

Per capita income? That boils down to earnings per head. Give stress on head, maybe whatever gray matter sheltered snugly and thrumming like an indefatigable perpetual motion machine in the cranium.

Capital? It’s a word we take as a sum of money but it’s really not. Capital pertains to the contents between the ears that often bring a measure of contentment.

So think it over. Knowledge doesn’t take up too much space but millions just don’t have the means-- maybe the wrought iron will and steely persistence—to gain access to knowledge and its keen cutting edge.

The DepEd study cites 30.5 percent of children are out of school—dire needs force them to work in menial, low-paying jobs—while about 20 percent can’t afford the high cost of education.

“We can only conquer the tyranny of poverty if we can conquer the tyranny of illiteracy.”

It’s one motherhood statement that has a ring of urgency to it.

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