Day 79 – Achieving Global Literacy

3P Learning: Literacy is most commonly defined as the ability to read and write. But beyond the functional level, literacy plays a vital role in transforming students into socially engaged citizens. Being able to read and write means being able to keep up with current events, communicate effectively, and understand the issues that are shaping our world.

Our World In Data: From a historical perspective, literacy levels for the world population have risen drastically in the last couple of centuries. While only 12% of the people in the world could read and write in 1820, today the share has reversed: only 14% of the world population remains illiterate. Over the last 65 years the global literacy rate increased by 4% every 5 years – from 42% in 1960 to 86% in 2015.

Globally however, large inequalities remain, notably between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. In Burkina Faso, Niger and South Sudan – the African countries at the bottom of the rank – literacy rates are still below 30%.

Plan International: The importance of education, how literacy improves lives:

  • Literacy lifts individuals out of poverty
  • Literacy improves the development of the wider community
  • Literacy reduces infant mortality rates
  • Literacy empowers women and girls
  • Literacy positively impacts economic growth beyond the local community

World Bank: It is estimated that more than 250 million school children throughout the world cannot read. This is unfortunate because literacy has enormous benefits – both for the individual and society. Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates. For a person, literacy is a foundational skill required to acquire advanced skills. These, in turn, confer higher wages and more employment across labor markets .

Unesco: Technology helps develop literacy and numeracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. To improve teaching, learning and especially the low literacy levels in the world through innovative uses of technology, The Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at the Concordia University in Canada develops and distributes globally, without charge, accessible pedagogical tools through its Learning Toolkit Plus. The evidence-based and self-regulating learning software program helps developing literacy, numeracy and other competencies of learners around the world.

My wife and I traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2018 with my daughter Gabrielle and her organization, Free For Life International, along with other organizations that were serving the elementary schools and orphanages there. Mark Haney, co-founder of Ctrl Alt Del Poverty, was there to deliver handfuls of needed educational technology – gratis – to the awaiting teachers and students.  

Ctrl Alt Del Poverty: Give Ctrl to local classrooms and teachers. Alt the systems of power and connectivity. Del Poverty and inspire students. Working out of their garage, as a non-profit organization, all of their funds are used to further the mission of equipping students across the world.  

It was amazing to see their self contained Mobile Educational Technology Labs (METL) in action within the classrooms. Students and teachers huddled together around the shared devices discovering the world. No matter the location or challenge, their METL Kits can be used to bring first world education opportunities to any location in the world. 

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