The fact of illiteracy has to do with trendy teaching methods, schooldays which are too short, and useless teachers, plus heads who fail to maintain discipline in schools. It is also due to television and the tantalising of swathes of the various populations by social media, mobile phones and websites with inane content.
UK state-schools rank 44th in the world and regularly turn out 1 child in 5 who is illiterate, unable to read/comprehend a bus timetable, unable to communicate except in monosyllabic grunts, and with no social graces or work ethic.
The situation is made worse by parents who feed their offspring food which has no nutritional value or fail to provide them with any food at all.
Whilst on assignment for insurance companies who deal with the urban and rural poor, I have seen houses without a single book or magazine in both the UK, and in certain areas of America where people are particularly financially challenged.
Under those circumstances, one can see how the illiteracy, which Dr Alf writes about, via this EuroActive article, costs what it does.
The costs are greater than the cited $1.2 trillion USD of course, because illiteracy is rife in prisons. This due to the fact that such people cannot get jobs and thus resort to crime and then need to be sustained by unemployment benefits by taxpayers following their incarceration.
National competitiveness is damaged by skills shortages and the proliferation of a feral underclass of essentially economically useless people, who have to carried at the expense of everyone else and cannot even be used by the military or in factories because they possibly lack the mental capacity to operate modern weapons systems or make things that our exporters can sell.
The actions needed to transform this abysmal situation are:
1) Fire all ineffective teachers and trendy heads and derecognise teaching unions
2) Increase the school day to 12 hours, with homework on top, and Saturday classes for slow-learners
3) Replace all teachers with new highly competent ones and place troublesome children in schools run by former Army officers, retrained as heads and taught by former soldiers retrained as teachers (similar to America’s “Troops to Teachers” program)
4) Re-introduce whole-class teaching and use the best elements of the Chinese, Singaporean and South Korean school systems
5) Compel all pupils to wear uniforms, and clean their schools at the end of the day as happens in Japan
6) Have one curriculum and teach useful languages (these are in order are Mandarin, Brazilian Portuguese and Arabic for Europeans) and Spanish for Americans
7) Make children read one piece of great national/global literature a month, and test them on their comprehension
8) Teach children to speed and photo-read so that they can take in more data faster
9) Re-introduce rigor and discipline into the learning process and into the management of schools
10) Teach pupils alpha-brainwave entrainment, so that they can learn faster and remember more
11) Increase the proportion of male teachers and teach all teachers to use NLP