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      Albany Technical College president talks about literacy

      Everyone living in southwest Georgia wants us to be competitive in the worldwide economy.

      But first, South Georgia needs to tackle its illiteracy rate.

      Albany Tech president, Dr. Anthony Parker realizes the importance of higher education. Having graduated with a doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina. So it makes sense that he wants to help others reap the rewards of a diploma or degree.

      We want to be a work ready community. So to be work ready we need to have some specialized skills. But in order to have those specialized skills we need the basic education that would be demonstrated by a high school diploma or G.E.D. said Dr. Parker.

      Dougherty County and seven surrounding counties reported 26,000 people over the age of 20 without a high school diploma. Corey Turner is a student taking G.E.D. prep courses.

      I just made it to 9th grade and cared more about partying so I quit school and done that! I just got to provide for my family and make some money to pay bills, said Turner.

      His instructor, Vaughn Reid says he's seen the benefits of Albany Tech's program.

      Almost daily somebody from across the way in the other classes come stick their head in the door and say thank you, said Reid.

      Students go through an assessment so the school knows where to place them. After that comes an individualized program, tailor-made for their needs, and officials say it TMs worth the investment.

      At 45, you've got 20 years to work at a higher rate of pay than you would if you didn't earn it. And at 35, you've got 30 years, so it's worthwhile financially, said Dr. Parker.

      Dr. Parker says he encourages anyone who needs it, to take these courses because not only will it benefit the student, but they'll also benefit Albany in the long run.

      The economic development authority and others can market our community as work ready and designate to anyone who might come that we're prepared to help them make a profit here.

      Call Albany Technical College at 229-430-3500 and ask for the Adult Education program. An administrator will be able to tell you when the next program will start and how to sign up.