By Anna Nelson, buildOn’s Curriculum Specialist
Since 1967, UNESCO has promoted the importance of education and literacy by encouraging the world to celebrate International Literacy Day. buildOn celebrates this day because literacy is one of the pillars of our mission, and it’s one of the main reasons our work is so important and fulfilling. But we still have a long way to go until the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of “Education for All” is met.
UNESCO states that there are still 1 billion adults in the world that are illiterate. That’s 26% of the adult population that can’t read or write. Two-thirds of this number is women. Research shows that education, especially the education of women and girls, is one of the most effective ways to fight global poverty and extremism. According to the Global Campaign for Education, no country has ever achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without first having at least 40% of its adults able to read and write.
What can you do to promote literacy in your own community and abroad? We’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started:
• Tutor an adult in your community that is learning how to read. Ask your local library to connect you to a program that works with illiterate adults.
• Hold a book drive and donate books to a charity, such as Books for Africa, that is working to end the book famine in Africa.
• Start a book club with an international theme.
• Host a read-a-thon fundraiser to support buildOn’s work to build schools in the countries that need them most.
• Tutor a refugee or recently arrived immigrant in your community.
• Donate children’s books to a Books for Babies program in your community. They’ll bring a “literacy bag” with your books to a mother and newborn in the hospital to promote literacy and reading from a young age.
• Use your literacy skills to write letters to Amnesty International and help fight injustice around the world.
• Give a book as a gift. Include a note about why you believe literacy is so important.
• Get involved with your local library.
• Contact your local newspaper with a story about how literacy has impacted your life and some facts about literacy to raise awareness.
• Host a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer to speak with your local community group about how literacy affected the community where they lived and worked as a volunteer.
• Support Better World Books by sending them your used books or buying your books from their website-for every book you buy, they donate one to someone in need. And you can send your used books to them for free!