The potential for individual and social transformation that takes place when an adult becomes literate may have a humble beginning but for the individual learner it can be dynamic. For example, the ability to sign our name may be a skill many of us take for granted. However, in much of the world, signing a person's name is an indication of being literate and opens the door for other knowledge beyond the reach of many of their peers." look at this!" a man in Côte d'Ivoire told a friend. "...no more ink on my thumb! Now I can sign my name! I don't need to make a thumbprint anymore!"
Literacy among adults allows parents an edge in communicating and passing on the value of literacy to their children. When parents cannot read, often their families are caught up in a generational cycle, not only of lack of education but also of illness and poverty. On the other hand, getting a good start in literacy in the mother tongue can begin to break that cycle so that they can move on to access other educational opportunities in their own life-long learning. This is especially true among the women and rural poor who carry the heaviest burden of illiteracy. With literacy skills, the cycle can be broken.