Adolescent Literacies in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Bartlett L
  • Lopez D
  • Mein E
 et al. 
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In 2000, approximately 36 million youth and adults living in Latin America and the Caribbean were reported to be unable to read or write basic texts. Of these, 20 million were women. According to official statistics, some countries in Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras) have a youth and adult literacy rate of 80% or lower. The Caribbean countries currently have literacy rates between 80% and 90%, except for Haiti, which has an estimated rate of 50% (UNESCO-OREALC, 2004a, p. 39, as reported in Umayahara, 2005, p. 42). Yet what do these official statistics mean? To what language do they refer? What social inequalities are reflected but not illuminated by such statistics? And how are youth, specifically, using reading and writing in creative ways not captured by these official measures? In this article, the authors review official statistics and examine literacy policy and programming for youth across Latin America and the Caribbean. They contrast these official discourses on youth and literacy and programs or policies for youth literacy with empirical studies of adolescent literacy practices--noting a discrepancy that goes beyond being a discursive problem, one that reveals persisting forms of social exclusion and marginalization. (Contains 3 tables and 6 notes.)

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  • L. Bartlett

  • D. Lopez

  • E. Mein

  • L. A. Valdiviezo

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