If you are reading this blog post right now, it is assumed that:
- You once learnt to read as a child and
- You are able to access and use information technology with ease.
We take these things for granted. We do business, we read and write on social media platforms, we study (so much of which is online now) and most importantly, we are able to improve the quality of our lives and often our income as a result of what we learn.
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that as a child:
- You had no access to books,
- Your parents couldn’t teach you how to read because they didn’t know how, and
- You had no access to the internet.
Now imagine that, with all these compounding factors, you couldn’t go to school as usual and had no access to the online learning tools that more privileged children had.
What would your outcomes be?
This is the lived reality of millions of children in developing countries right now. Though most are returning to regular school as the pandemic shows signs of slowing down, the foundations, which were weak to begin with, are crumbling even further.
Go back to your mental picture. What future would your imagined child have now?
Being able to read and write and use information technology is a gift. It’s that simple. It’s time we paid it forward.
Here in South Africa, eight out of every 10 nine-year-olds cannot read for meaning; they are functionally illiterate. This means that without a serious intervention, the next generation is likely to enter the workforce without the skills they need to raise themselves out of poverty. It’s a vicious cycle.
On International Literacy Day 2020 (8 September), be grateful that you won the birthday lottery and received your gift of literacy. Now, consider paying it forward to someone else. Here are three of my favourite organisations, which work to improve the literacy outcomes and lives of the children you imagined earlier. There are probably similar organisations in your part of the world too. Find them.
Dig deep. Pay it forward.
Who they are: Shine Literacy offers literacy support programmes in 77 primary schools around South Africa. Children work with trained volunteers once or twice a week, during the school day, for at least one year.
Who they are: Book Dash gathers creative professionals who volunteer to create new, African storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute. Their vision is that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five.
Who they are: Worldreader works globally with partners to support vulnerable and underserved communities with digital reading solutions that help improve learning outcomes, workforce readiness, and gender equity.
Written by Melissa Fagan, freelance content writer and editor
I help traditional and digital publishers deliver engaging and informative content that resonates with their readers. Internationally qualified writer and editor with 15 years’ publishing experience.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know of other literacy organisations in your part of the world not mentioned in this post? I’d love an introduction so please share in the comments below.