Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can read this, thank a teacher?” Does the teacher in this scenario need to be in the classroom? Of course not. Parents, siblings, family members, friends can all have a hand in helping someone become literate. Then there is the old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Likewise – reading or writing? Were combined letters the first thing we humans read? I don’t think so. I think as we evolved we learned to read all types of patterns: movement of animals, weather, growth of plants, wind, and yes, eventually combined letters or symbols.
But why is this important? I have been teaching students for over ten years now. Not specifically reading, but rather the skills to think critically, and develop questions. While I teach a myriad of subjects within the humanities, all are dependent on my students understanding how the patterns of letters translate into information. I task my students with analyzing articles, writing essays and creative narratives, reading books, as well as examining abstract ideas and questioning them through thoughtful discussion.
This requires one to be able to read and write. Can you imagine if you couldn’t?
According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 750 million people around the world are illiterate. Illiteracy is a major contributor to poverty, gender inequality, and poor health. So shouldn’t we do something about this?
As an educator, I of course believe that education is the foundation to everything. So I have decided to use my wee spot on the Internet to highlight a few organizations that are working towards increasing the number of literate people in the world. That means more and more people will crawl out of poverty, girls will find confidence and make more informed choices, and everyone that can read will have a much better chance of receiving health care. Yay!
So here five (of many) amazing organizations working specifically on literacy. If you can read this, then why not take a moment and give someone else the opportunity to do the same?
Easy ways to help another human:
Based in New York City. LitWorld works both domestically and internationally. They believe reading is the path to a better life. Specifically literacy brings seven major changes in a person’s life: “Belonging, Kindness, Curiosity, Friendship, Confidence, Courage, and Hope.”
Room to Read
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Room to Read “seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.”
World Literacy Foundation
Based out of the UK. WLF “believe that education is a fundamental human right, and that all individuals should be afforded the same opportunities for their future – including access to basic education.”
Based in Syracuse, NY. “Helping adults gain literacy skills helps reduce poverty, improve public health, and advance human rights around the world.”
Africa Library Project
Based in Pittsburg, CA. ALP “mobilizes U.S. volunteers, young and old, to organize book drives and ship books to start or improve a library in Africa.”