Approximately 137,000 native-English speakers in Oklahoma County are at a basic or below-basic reading level, also known as “nonreaders.” They comprise about 20 percent of Oklahoma County’s population, and many have managed to graduate high school only reading at a second-grade level.
“It’s shocking,” said Marion Jowaisas, who has tutored with the Oklahoma City Literacy Council for 20 years. “And they have no idea, the kids have no idea how ignorant they are, how uneducated they are. So someone tells them, ‘Why don’t you call the literacy council?'”
The Oklahoma City Literacy Council has taken a grassroots approach to attacking adult illiteracy. By using the “each one teach one” method, the council works to pair volunteer tutors with students for weekly lessons. The council provides tutors with all the materials and support they need to help them guide their students to a more functional life.
Millonn Lamb, director of the council, said the personal attention is what makes the difference. The journey is long and difficult, and adults often have to get past years of shame, embarrassment and personal obstacles to begin learning.
“Adults learn best one-on-one,” Lamb said. “After all, they probably failed in a classroom setting.”
Said Jowaisas, “I have a student who is 20 who graduated from a local high school, who can’t read worth a lick. People say, well how does that happen? Well, that’s our education system. Nobody takes responsibility for these kids.” “Lauren Hopkins