A Day in the Life | Teen Ink

A Day in the Life

April 29, 2010
By Lillian GOLD, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Lillian GOLD, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
11 articles 0 photos 15 comments

A lot of people out there simply do not realize how an illiterate person lives an unsure existence in this world. Here are some of the struggles an illiterate must face during a day-to-day routine.

-News- They cannot obtain the knowledge of their local/town's news or schedule and must go by word of mouth.

-Gas- Cannot use a credit card to pump for gas, unless they have memorized the procedure by heart, which is risky because there is always that possibility it may change.

-Medicine- They must be cautious if they are on a prescribed pill because other pills they may take or what they eat may cause a side effect that could end up being lethal. They may also not understand or be fully aware of some harmful toxins such as those in fast food or cigarettes.

-Finance- Typically they have a low income, but must place a trust in IRS workers or welfare counselors which is a risky relationship. They must 'forge' their own signature on a statement they haven't even read. They cannot manage a checking account and typically are uninsured since it's a hassle to understand all of the different types of insurance and sign all of the documents.

-Grocery- It's harder for them to recognize off-brand labels, so they must pay extra money they can't hardly afford on brands which they are comfortable with. At a restaurant, they cannot look at a menu. They cannot cook because they can't read directions unless they feel comfortable with a small choice of foods everyday.

-Networking- They cannot use a lot of social networking sites, nor most websites. They can hardly look up someone's number in the phone book. Driving is also tough because if they are in an unfamiliar neighborhood, they may not recognize any unfamiliar driving signs. Notes they may receive; such as an eviction notice, would be left, unaware of.

-Children- There are multiple issues to deal with if an illiterate has children, some of which include: helping with homework, permission slips and directions for safety equipment.

In America, it seems almost impossible that someone could live such an insecure, restrained, and reliant life... anywhere. The literacy rate around the globe is 84%, so you best believe those 16% are living with this set back. In India, for instance, the illiteracy rate is 36% as of 2009 (the largest, globally). It is more common to have a job if you are illiterate in India, but the struggles listed above would still be placed among them. However, the UNESCO hopes to claim education for all by 2015 since the right to education is a human right. It all comes down to the fact that illiterates have become marginalized to some standard, if not by us readers, failed government laws, and social society, then by their own lifestyle.

I'm asking you to just imagine yourself living a day in the life of an illiterate person. Or maybe even try it, and then make a list of all of your struggles you've encountered. I'm asking you for change-change your point-of-view.

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This article has 1 comment.

on May. 6 2010 at 3:35 pm

Well written.


I never really took the time to think about that, I always assumed an illiterate person just coudnt read a book lol. But yeah, what a crazy existance! How could an illiterate person have kids? The child would have to basically be self-relient.

But in America I dont think there are many people who are illiterate..I mean what type of person is? I like what you added about them being marginalized by social society, I guess its because we simply dont know anything about them..lol. Def. made ,me think more and want to know more as well. B


Since we know so little, its like, what can the people do to help? I guess research and inform others about government laws.