JSS 2 Civic Education First Term Week 7

Topic: Social Issues (Illiteracy)


  • Meaning of social issues
  • Meaning of illiteracy
  • Causes of illiteracy

Social Issues are social problem that influences and it is opposed by a considerable number of individuals within a society. Some social issues in Nigeria are Illiteracy, Drug abuse, child abuse, child trafficking, traffic rules and regulation, accidents, corruption etc. All of these are some of the social problems in Nigeria.


Illiteracy can simply be defined as a situation where people cannot read and write. An illiterate is someone who has not learnt how to read or write, an illiterate is a person who can neither read nor write while a literate is a person who can read and write.

Causes of Illiteracy

  1. Poverty: According to Ewetan 2005 poverty is defined as a situation of low income or consumption. It is the lack of physical necessities, assets and income, a person who is poor therefore cannot afford to be literate because of their financial status.
  2. Wrong attitude to education: Attitude is the opinion and feeling that a person have towards something. The wrong attitude of government and individual persons to education will increase the level of illiteracy in the nation.
  3. Wrong policies and priorities: When people in government do not make policies that will address the educational system in the country, the citizens become illiterate. Government and individual must set their priorities right and see the need for education.
  4. Traditions and values: Some people because of their ways of life and mind set may not see going to school as something important and crucial, some don’t have values for education, the nomadic cattle rearers for instance move from one location to another. Their traditions and type of jobs made them to have no value for education.
  5. Lack of access to education: There are some people who live far away from school and some don’t even have school in their areas and because of this they remain illiterate due to lack of access to where schools are.
  6. Poor and inadequate facilities: Poor classrooms, inadequate staffs, unequipped library etc will discourage students from learning; they thereby end up in becoming an illiterate.
  7.  Social evils: This social evil like child marriage, child labor and slavery is the reason why some children are illiterate.
  8. Emigration of educated individuals: Another reason for illiteracy is that those who are educated traveled or emigrated to other advanced country because of good job and better standard of living leaving the young ones with no hope of teachers
  9. Overpopulation: This is a situation where the available resources are not sufficient enough to the available people in the country.

Illiteracy in Adults

Illiteracy in individuals stems from different, generally inter-related causes which, together, create a series of often insurmountable barriers for those concerned. 

For instance, for someone born into an underprivileged milieu to parents with little formal schooling, the likelihood of being illiterate or experiencing serious learning difficulties will be higher. This is known as inter generational transmission of illiteracy. 

The following are the most frequent causes of illiteracy in adults:

  • Parents with little schooling;
  • Lack of books at home and lack of stimulation as to the importance of reading;
  • Doing badly at or dropping out of school—many have not completed high school;
  • Difficult living conditions, including poverty;
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dysorthographia, etc. 

Consequences of Illiteracy

The consequences of illiteracy are many and harmful in several respects. As well as affecting illiterate individuals themselves in their daily lives and often jeopardizing their future, this scourge has a significant effect on society, both socially and economically.

The consequences of illiteracy on individuals and society include the following: 

For individuals

  • Limited ability to obtain and understand essential information;
  • Unemployment: The unemployment rate is 2–4 times higher among those with little schooling than among those with Bachelor’s degrees;
  • Lower income;
  • Lower-quality jobs;
  • Reduced access to lifelong learning and professional development;
  • Precarious financial position;
  • Little value is given to education and reading within the family, and this often leads to inter-generational transmission of illiteracy;
  • Low self-esteem, which can lead to isolation;
  • Impact on health: Illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources and because they have trouble reading and understanding the relevant information (warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc.). 

For society

  • Since literacy is an essential tool for individuals and states to be competitive in the new global knowledge economy, many positions remain vacant for lack of personnel adequately trained to hold them;
  • The higher the proportion of adults with low literacy proficiency is, the slower the overall long-term GDP growth rate is;
  • The difficulty understanding societal issues lowers the level of community involvement and civic participation. 

Without the basic tools necessary for achieving their goals, individuals without an adequate level of literacy cannot be involved fully and on a completely equal basis in social and political discourse. 

Test and Exercise

  1. Social issues are issues that affect everybody in the society. True / false (true)
  2. A person who cannot read and write is (a) literate (b) genius (c) illiterate (d) champion. ans (c)
  3. A person who can read and write is called (a) literate (b) illiterate (c) genius (d) dumb. ans (a)
  4. All of these are some of the causes of illiteracy except (a) poverty (b) lack of access to school (c) provision of access to school (d) wrong policies and priorities. ans (c)
  5. A situation where people cannot read and write is (a) literacy (b) illiteracy (c) normalcy (d) accuracy.