Fourth World illiteracy
Illiteracy among the destitute
The illiterate in the Fourth World (disadvantaged minorities and destitute people in any country), find themselves in positions of inferiority in a number of everyday situations and are also confronted with the complexity of life in industrially developed countries. Being unable to read street signs, the names of underground stations, bus and tram destinations, it is very difficult to get around in a city. An illiterate is unable to compare labels in a store; cannot calculate the price of foodstuffs; cannot fill in application forms for jobs, for assistance, or for schooling for her children.
Many industrialized countries which initiated literacy programmes years ago assume the problem has been solved, thus the question does not appear on census questionnaires and is not brought to public attention. For newly arrived immigrant workers, few industrialized countries have a comprehensive literacy education policy.
While it may be embarrassing for First World countries to admit a common problem with Third World nations, there must be political determination to solve the problem of Fourth World illiteracy. More effective identification of illiterates and their environment is necessary as well as a fuller understanding of the causes of different forms of illiteracy. Given the capital and technology available in all industrialized nations, it is a disgrace that millions of their inhabitants live in fear, shame and isolation caused by a problem for which there is a solution.