New Student Group at UA Works to Help Alabamians Improve Literacy Skills
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A new student organization called Literacy is The Edge has been started at The University of Alabama with the goal of improving literacy rates in West Alabama.
LITE was created by 22 students in a graduate class in persuasive communication campaigns taught by Dr. Bruce Berger, professor and chair of the department of advertising and public relations in UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.
“We became aware of the new Literacy Council in September and invited Johnnie Aycock [of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce] to speak with us about the issue.” Berger said. “Afterward, the students decided to re-design the class to put our study of theories into practice — to make it a service-learning experience at the same time. The students have embraced the cause and are carrying out many activities in November to increase awareness on campus and recruit student volunteers.”
LITE’s goals are to help increase awareness of the problem in the community and recruit UA student volunteers to tutor children and adults, write stories, develop a Web site, speak to groups and help plan other activities to support the work of the newly created Literacy Council of West Alabama.
Functional illiteracy is an often invisible but serious problem throughout the state, LITE organizers say. They report that some 25 percent of Alabama residents lack functional literacy skills, meaning that they cannot read, write or do simple math computations; they add that the rate exceeds 40 percent in some West Alabama counties.
Aycock, president of the Chamber and head of the new Literacy Council, said the literacy problem affects everyone, not just those who can’t read. “Functional illiteracy is closely linked to many serious economic and social problems in the area and state, such as unemployment, high school drop-out rates, poverty, high rates of teen pregnancy, crime and health issues. All of these bear real costs for our community and state,” he said.
The Literacy Council serves as a coordinating body for many literacy groups and initiatives in the area. The LITE group was organized by the UA graduate students in an effort to support the Literacy Council and help West Alabama lower illiteracy.
Some of LITE’s planned activities this month include: information tables in the Ferguson Center; presentations to classes and groups on campus; TV and radio public service announcements, involving UA football players and area literacy tutors and their students; participation in a WVUA program; and distribution of information packets to campus leaders.
Students are being asked to take the 30/60 Challenge for Literacy, which means committing to 30 or 60 hours of volunteer work with the Literacy Council of West Alabama in the 2009 spring semester. Interested students should send an e-mail to email@example.com, call 205/348-7692 or search for Literacy Is The Edge on Facebook.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
CONTACT: Drew Wood or Linda Hill, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Dr. Bruce K. Berger, professor and chairman, department of advertising and public relations, UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, 205/348-7692, email@example.com, Literacyistheedge@gmail.com