“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
― Kofi Annan
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 was an important day for lots of parents and their children. It was an important day for my family. It was my son’s first day back to school. This year he will be in grade 2 . It was wonderful seeing parents and their kids filing into the school. The halls were crowded and noisy as we squeezed our way to the gym where the children were to line up before heading to the auditorium for the greeting and morning prayer. As I looked at the children in their uniforms, I thought of how what a blessing it is to be able to go to school.
September 8 was an important day for another reason. It was International Literacy Day, a day first proclaimed as such on November 17, 1965 by UNESCO. It was first celebrated in 1966 and its objective has always been to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. The theme for this year was Literacy and Sustainable Societies and the Day marked the 50th anniversary of the World Congress of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy. It is a day when the world is reminded of how important learning is.
International Literacy Day gives children and communities a chance to rediscover the joys of reading while raising awareness for those without access to education.
Can you imagine being a mother and unable to read your child’s school report or help him with his homework because you can’t read or write? What if you couldn’t read the Bible or a bedtime story to your child or a Mother’s Day or birthday card? Sadly, there are women in South Asia who can’t read or write. Can you believe that over 30% of Asian women are illiterate? In fact, more than one out of every three women in Asia are illiterate!
There is hope, thanks to Gospel for Asia’s Literacy Program. Through literacy classes held by GFA supported local Women’s Fellowships, women are learning how to read, write, do basic math, some of life’s most basic lessons, and, most importantly, they are learning how to read and study God’s Word on their own. What a joy it must be to be able to read about a loving God and a Savior who gave His life for them. And better yet, they can read to their children.
So women volunteered to teach literacy classes to other women. The program expanded into several states and two countries, so a standardized curriculum was developed.
In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are so many people who still cannot read or write. Last year, Gospel for Asia supported the work of missionaries who saw International Literacy Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the value of women’s literacy and to share the Gospel.
Do you want to bring hope to women by helping to make it possible for them to read and study God’s Word? Find out how you can do so here. Reading and writing are basic necessities of life that everyone should have. Women who learn how to read, write and do basic Math will be able to provide for their families. You will be helping a woman to keep her children safe because she can read the warning labels or from being cheated at the marketplace because she knows basic Math. Think of how different your life would be if you couldn’t read your Bible, recipes, emails or letters. Then think of the freedom you enjoy from being literate and how you can help to liberate these women too.
Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens – President Bill Clinton on International Literacy Day, September 8th 1994