Indeed, becoming literate used to be one of the best career moves anyone could make. In ancient China for example, extended families would concentrate their resources to make the smartest kid amongst them as literate in the classics as he – not she – could be. That way, he might pass the imperial exams, become a mandarin and benefit the whole clan. Becoming literate required a lot of investment from one’s kin. That bit at least has not changed much.
Needless to say, for most societies if not all, keeping literacy exclusive meant keeping knowledge and information restricted to a chosen class.
To read the rest of the article and to access our e-Archive, subscribe to us for
RM150 a year.