Forsyth County last week celebrated the awarding of a state designation that was years in the making — that of a Certified Literate Community.
Only 29 communities in Georgia have earned the Certified Literate distinction through a recognition program started by the Technical College System of Georgia in 1990. Forsyth is the most recent to claim the distinction.
What does it mean?
It means if you are an adult who can’t function in the job market due to a lack of literacy skills, help is available. It means if you had to leave high school before graduation, there’s a way to get a GED. It means adults for whom English may be a second language can bridge the communication barrier.
In short, it means that the community, through a host of programs, has made the effort to help adults gain mastery of basic educational skills they need to make their lives and the lives of their families better.
The push to earn the Certified Literate Community designation for the county was led by a nonprofit group, Literacy Forsyth, which works closely with Lanier Technical College to help provide adult education training for those in need of special help outside the traditional classroom.
Literacy Forsyth receives no government money, but individuals and businesses from throughout the county have for years generously supported the group and the programs it helps to coordinate and promote.
Communities participating in the Certified Literate Community Program are given 10 years to meet specific benchmarks in adult education. That Forsyth County reached the goal in five is no surprise, given the support for the effort from throughout the community and the dedication of those involved in the effort.
While most consider Forsyth to be a well educated, affluent county where literacy is not a problem, in truth thousands of adults in the county have a need for help.
In the five years of working to gain the state honor, adult education programs in the county helped more than 7,300 adults to reach specific, measured goals in their educational growth.
The end result, beyond enhancing the standard of living for thousands of local residents, is also an economic benefit for the county, as a better educated workforce is more attractive to businesses looking to locate here.
Congratulations to Literacy Forsyth, Lanier Technical College, and all the groups, individuals and businesses that have helped to make the Certified Literate designation a reality.
Lives are better for the effort, and the community enriched by those adults helped by the program.
But there is still work to be done. The numbers in need of help in Forsyth County are surprising, and the resources limited. If you would like to help, visit the Literacy Forsyth Web site, www.literacyforsyth.com, to find out what you can do.