Changing the world, one word at a time: International Literacy Day

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Every year on September 8, International Literacy Day is observed to raise awareness and concern about literacy issues that exist both locally and globally.

If you can read this right now, you are more blessed than almost 800 million adults and over 250 million children worldwide who lack basic literacy skills. Even in this age of modern living, enlightenment, and technology, there are still people who can’t read, write, and learn.

READ Educational Trust states that in South Africa, the statistics are bleak: According to nationally representative surveys, the adult illiteracy rate is at a staggering 12%, and more than half (58%) of South African children do not learn to read fluently and with comprehension in any language by the end of Grade 4.

“Literacy is a fundamental pillar of broader education. When we have the confidence to read, we have the confidence to learn, both in and out of the classroom.  Sadly, children and teens who have difficulty reading are more likely to drop out of school before completing their basic education. This creates a negative and profound ripple effect,” said the organisation.

According to READ, no matter how ambitious one’s goals and efforts are, a lack of basic literacy and numeracy abilities automatically disqualifies many people from a wide range of quality jobs, contributing to poverty and unemployment. “In fact, illiterate workers earn 30–42% less than their literate counterparts and are also more likely than those with better literacy skills to suffer poor health.”

There is far more to literacy than just being able to read a book or write a shopping list. Being able to read, write, and comprehend what you’re reading, gives you the building blocks you need to improve your quality of life and lays the groundwork for developing abilities needed to be self-sufficient.

Compiled by Justine Fortuin