In 1965 the U.N. declared September 8 International Literacy Day. I think it's a superb idea but like many U.N. initiatives it's ineffective and ignored. So today I decided it was time to bring attention back to a very important idea.
Let's look at some statistics from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) about literacy rates. The adult male literacy rate internationally is higher than the adult female literacy rate, 88.6% compared to 79.7%. That's quite a difference between adult men and women. If I were to explain why there is such a disparity between the sexes I would explain the differences between the lives of men and women. Men generally inhabit the public sphere, working in areas that demonstrate a necessity to be literate while women generally inhabit the private sphere such as the home. Globally speaking there is a common trend for men to be more educated than women. Luckily the youth literacy rate is higher, 92.2% for male youths and 87.1% for female youths. One might be surprised due to the prevalence of texting but in many parts of the world there are programs put in place to teach children literacy. Thank goodness.
Now here are the really important statistics, 775.4 million adults and 122.2 million youths are illiterate worldwide. Assuming that there are approximately 7 billion people in the world, that means over 13% of the world is illiterate. It's a scary thought. I think it brings up the question, how can we improve illiteracy awareness and/or increase literacy? One preventative solution is to nurture our youth. Helping a child learn how to write and read at an early age is crucial. Even more important is encouraging children to be passionate about writing and reading. Lucky for me my mother made it one of her top priorities when she raised me. She's a voracious reader and so am I. It's a proven statistic that parents who value reading are more likely to have children who enjoy reading as well.
So take this opportunity to educate others about illiteracy and maybe even read a book to a child. I would recommend Dr. Seuss, Robert Munsch and Roald Dahl.
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