MYRKWOOD - The Midgard Department of Education announced today that the literacy rate among trolls has risen to 3%, a stunning increase over recent years that attests to the success of the department's literacy programs.
"The inability of the vast majority of trolls to read the printed word, and often to even speak coherently, is the unspoken tragedy of Midgard," said MDE spokesman Perjin Horsefeathers at a press conference announcing the findings. "We hope to continue to make great strides in troll literacy, perhaps even four to four-and-a-half percent by the end of the year."
Troll educators have employed a variety of unusual techniques in an attempt to "put da beeg wurds in da tik troll noggunz, nib un eezee ting to be doeeng," in the words of one promising troll student.
One technique, dubbed "Spell n' Smash," involves teaching students to spell by presenting them with various objects printed with letters, and having them smash the objects in the appropriate order to spell words. Educators believe that the sequence of repetitive smashing is a useful device for getting trolls to remember the proper sequence of letters.
Another popular technique involves organizing the mid-day meal (or "lunchies," as the trolls call it) around reading exercises. The edibles are labelled with parts of speech, and the tastiest items follow a distinct sequence of proper grammar; a troll accidentally choosing the wrong word will find that his steamed moss sandwich actually contains ham and cheese, one of the foods trolls find most disgusting.
The literacy program is not without its critics, however. Some fear that the education programs may give rise to a privledged class of intellectual trolls, reading treatises and smoking clove cigarettes in street cafes; others worry that "buk lernin" may distract trolls from their most important function: rushing headalong into danger against Midgard's enemies.
"Our realm relies on slow-witted trolls to push back the hordes of Albion and Hibernia," said political pundit Bogun Haversly. "If the trolls stop to think about whether it's a good idea to run into a pack of spellcasters or run screaming toward a heavily-defended keep, we'll never survive the onslaught! Next they'll be putting dwarves on stilts."
The first graduation ceremony for newly-literate trolls will be held next week in Galplen. The public is invited, as long as they can read the signs.