If you’re able to read this then count yourself lucky; at some point you learned to read. You probably went to school and I’m guessing someone showed you a book or two in your childhood. You’re better off than a lot of people in this world. You are earning 35% more than an illiterate person (on average).
Are You Only Talking About Poor Kids in Africa?
There’s plenty of illiteracy in Africa, but what may surprise you is that ‘developed’ countries such as the UK, USA, and Australia, all have major illiteracy issues. There are 7 million illiterate adults in the UK. When I say illiteracy, I’m talking functional literacy, FYI. I mean not being able to read road signs, your child’s school report, a leaflet your doctor gave you…that sort of stuff.
In 2020, how can it be that worldwide, 750 million adults still remain illiterate? And, unsurprisingly, two-thirds of that group are women. Studies have shown a mother’s literacy level is closely related to her child’s future health.
Furthermore, if you are illiterate, you’re unable to access information related to your health and are therefore disempowered to make informed decisions. You’re also at risk of financial exploitation if you can’t read and understand letters from utility and insurance companies or banks. Sure, you can read the numbers, but how are you supposed to know what they mean if you can’t read the words that are wrapped around them? It gets worse; there’s a domino effect on future generations at play here: 85% of teens involved in crime are illiterate and most unemployed people are in that position because they are illiterate, innumerate, or both.
Okay, This Is Bad – What Am I Supposed to Do, Though?
Support the WLF, of course! Wait! I didn’t write this just to take your money! (Although if you do want to donate you should know that donations go towards supporting literacy projects such as the 26 different grassroots projects held within just 12 months in the UK.) There’s so much more you can do!
You can volunteer! Become a volunteer blog writer – like me! It’s great, I promise. Or you can volunteer with local book drives – get more books in front of more kids. Perhaps you’ve got a great range of voices for different book characters? Read out loud at a local playgroup! It would be heaps of fun and the kids will love you for it! Or maybe you’d be a great advocate for global literacy who could raise awareness of the WLF’s work at your office, school, university, or social group. Fab – you could be an ambassador! The easiest way to do your bit for literacy – right now – is to share this blog post on your social media.
So, as I sit here, writing in a Gothic bookshop, appreciating the millions of written words around me and the magic that lies between the pages, I’m grateful. Grateful because I’ve always had access to books, a good education, and parents who could invest in me. Will you help the child who can’t say the same? Will you be the change you want to see in society?