Two hundred years ago, the government of Sweden changed everything: They required all their citizens to be literate. It transformed every element of the culture and economy of Sweden, an effect that's felt to this day.
Television, of course, is a great replacement for the hard work of learning to read and write, but, if you think about it, so are autocratic governments and dogmas that eliminate choice. Unguided reading is a real threat, because unguided reading leads to uncomfortable questions.
Teach someone to read and you guarantee that they will be able to learn forever. Teach an entire culture to read and connections and innovations go through the roof.