“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass
Since 1967, International Literacy Day has been celebrated on the 8th of September. This year’s theme, “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces” gives us a chance to understand the importance of literacy learning spaces as a way to create resiliency, ensure quality, and create an equitable education for all.
As a mother, there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not explaining to my children the importance of reading and writing. It is a value that I want to make sure is ingrained because it will help them succeed in life. I have always believed that literacy is fundamental to learning and furthering one’s education, especially for women. Yet, despite of all the progress made, there still exists some literacy challenges such as:
- According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) there are 771 million illiterate people around the world, most of whom are women, lacking in basic reading and writing skills.
- More than 43 million adults in the United States cannot read or write above a third-grade level.
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report 75% of state incarcerated individuals can be classified as low literate.
- It is reported that workers who have less education than a high school diploma have the lowest median weekly earnings ($592), three times less than the highest level of education.
- And sadly, in the aftermath of the pandemic, nearly 24 million learners might never return to formal education; 11 million are projected to be girls and young women.
As a society, we need to ensure no one is left behind by enriching and recreating learning spaces for all. Literacy is a human right. Like B.B. King stated, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”