Across the globe nearly 171 million children could be lifted out of poverty if they left school with basic reading and writing skills. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.
More than 20 posts across the globe are working in literacy and early-grade reading as primary projects, and even more Volunteers do secondary projects focused on literacy, reading and writing, and enhancing literacy in their communities through books and reading. Much like the focused efforts of the UNICEF programs I worked with as a Volunteer, our efforts today focus on the foundational skills young learners need to “crack the code” of reading.
As a librarian, I was particularly tickled to hear about Peace Corps Volunteer Karri Stout’s endeavor to establish a library at a school in a small African village in Tanzania. Education and access to information are important developmental tools everywhere in the world.
Of course, this young lady wasn’t just thinking of a standard library, but a bilingual library that would serve students as well as adults living in the village of Utelewe. For the 2013 school year, the school has 342 students enrolled; a library serving this many children will improve literacy rates, and can have a far-reaching impact on their lives.
Reading is definitely one of the more popular leisure activities for Peace Corps Volunteers. What were some of the books you read during your service? Did you bring home any books from your country? How many times did you read War and Peace during your 27 months overseas?
“Currently, community members either have to rely on the limited materials at the local community center or have to venture outside of the town to access information, including newspapers. The new library will promote self-learning and literacy through access to books and computer programs, in addition to imparting management skills to the teachers and students that will run and maintain the library.”
- Peace Corps Volunter Claire McManus, who is working with her Dominican community to build its first library
In 2008, 796 million adults worldwide (15 years and older) reported not being able to read and write and two-thirds of them (64%) were women (see Table 1). The global adult literacy rate was 83%, with a male literacy rate of 88% and a female literacy rate of 79%. More than half of those unable to read and write – 412 million – lived in Southern Asia. A further 176 million adults were in sub-Saharan Africa. Together, these two regions accounted for three-quarters (74%) of adults unable to read and write worldwide.