International Literacy Day celebrates the achievements of educators, volunteers, and students across the world who have either become literate in the past year, or who have facilitated someone else’s journey towards literacy. It also calls attention to the sobering reality that one out of every 5 adults is illiterate. Of these, something like two-thirds are women. Worldmapper has a map demonstrating this educational disparity.
Literacy is both a feminist and a children’s rights issue, since a mother’s literacy level more strongly impacts her child’s future than her income or whether she’s got a job. In the US, one out of every four kids grows up unable to read. You can help.
Maybe you’re not the biggest fan of kids. But! If you’re an accountant, you can help by working with an area non-profit for a few hours to help them with their books. If you’re a business person, you can help them develop a five year plan, or otherwise help them become self-sustaining. If you’re willing to share ANY PART of your skill set with a non-profit (maybe website development, advertising, event management, prize/silent auction donations, etc) you are helping them realize their mission. Organizations like Lifting Voices, College Summit, One World Education, and the Ron Brown Scholar Program all rely on the generosity of volunteers and funders so that their workers can do their thing.
Yesterday, I wrote about several books that I didn’t like. The fact of the matter is, my being able to read them at all is a gift. It’s a legacy provided to me by my parents and my good luck in having incredibly dedicated teachers in my formative years. While I don’t always like what I read, being literate means I can do things like type erudite blog posts, read the warnings on prescription labels, and rely on a variety of print and new media sources for my news and entertainment. This International Literacy Day, I’d like to pay this debt forward, and ask you to join me in contributing whatever we can towards helping someone else become literate.