1 in 6 Hawaii adults are functionally illiterate - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

1 in 6 Hawaii adults are functionally illiterate

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Karl Duggan Karl Duggan
Armando Nicdao Armando Nicdao
Suzanne Skjold Suzanne Skjold

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - The numbers are shocking, 1 in 6 adults in Hawaii cannot read or write even at a basic level. One Oahu man is struggling to not be one of those statistics. As he writes a new chapter in his life, one simple word at a time.

It's an easy reading exercise. But one Armando Nicdao never had.

All the written English he ever learned, he learned in kindergarten over 35 years ago.

"He knew his ABCs and 123s and had a command of the English language but that was just verbal," said his tutor, Karl Duggan.

Now, twice a week for the past 6 months he has been learning to spell, sound and write words. But this second chance at a life of literacy has been a struggle, for a man who spent so little time in school.

"Very hard, you pray 'God you don't give up'. Very hard, sometimes your mind very heavy and you don't know how to answer this one," said Nicdao.

Armando's story is not unique in Hawaii. Many immigrants and even more US born residents function in our society without these important skills.

"There are over 150,000 people in Hawaii right now who are not reading and writing at the level considered literate. They're making a living, or raising children but that would be easier if they improved their reading and writing skills," said Suzanne Skjold, the Executive Director of Hawaii Literacy.

With every lesson, Armando is working to make his life easier. By learning how to read, he'll be able to fill out a job application for work that was unobtainable before.

For him, the hope is to one day be able to travel and know how to read a map during his trip.

He knows these lessons, while difficult for him, are important steps in getting him moving forward on his journey through life.

"I'm happy with his progress. Going from not reading much of anything to reading a short story and getting the meaning of it," added Duggan.

Armando is in the second book of the four book program. By the time he is finished, he'll be able to read and write well enough to apply for a GED. The Hawaii Literacy tutoring for Armando and all students is provided free of charge.

For more information go to www.hawaiiliteracy.org or call 537-6706 for the adult literacy program.