The pattern of literacy being drowned out of priorities in the midst of conflict has tragically been repeated all over the world. Whether it be constant school bombings in the Middle East or dreaded school shootings in the U.S., for too many students having a safe place to read, write, and learn seems unrealistic.
What’s the effect of violence?
According to UNICEF’s 2017 annual report, violent conflicts in Yemen closed thousands of schools and pushed 1.8 million children out of education as of August 2015. This adds to the 1.6 million children who were out of school before the violence escalated.
Imagine being an excited child ready to begin school and live a good life like the ones they always talk about in the fairy tales. But then not having a school in your country safe from bombing to step into. That’s the frightening reality for many children.
As a result, an estimated 58 percent of the world’s primary and lower secondary school-age children have failed to achieve basic literacy.
Violence in a different form threatens western nations like the U.S., where I live. As summarized by CNN, in the 46 weeks that comprise the school year there were 45 school shootings in 2019, averaging one school every week.
Never do students forget those rifles that murder their spark and turn their dreams to dust. Rifles that turn learning into a living nightmare.
What’s the end goal?
Why should we feel threatened in a place that is supposed to empower everyone? It is time to reframe the literacy debate, understanding the unspeakable events that rob children of their passion, inspiration, and opportunity to read and write. Raising writers over rifles paves the way to international diplomacy and lets children build themselves, and the people around them, a better life.
As a young coloured girl dreaming to someday be a writer, and one of the first female leaders of my high school’s speech and debate team, I feel it is my job to help young readers and writers everywhere believe they can do whatever, and be whoever they want.
In the midst of all the tides currently pushing back on youth literacy, learn how you can positively impact the education of children in disadvantaged communities here: www.worldliteracyfoundation.org