Public schools. Private schools. Charter schools. Home schools. Here in the U.S. nearly all of our children are enrolled in school of one kind or another. Not so in many parts of the world. Our partner, World Literacy Foundation, tells us that 67 million primary aged children and 74 million secondary school children are not in school. Millions more are sitting in classrooms and receiving education of such a poor quality that it will do little to enhance their life outcomes. World Literacy Foundation believes that education is the best tool we have for tackling poverty and they know that literacy plays a central role in education.
Because Budding Reader donates an eBook every time you buy one, we’ve partnered with World Literacy Foundation to help bring our eBooks to the world’s neediest children. We asked the non-profit’s CEO, Andrew Kay, to share more about this organization.
Tell us a little bit about World Literacy Foundation. What are its mission and goals? How many people do you serve and where?
The World Literacy Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to improving literacy standards across the globe. We have a vision for a world where every child has the opportunity to receive free and quality education.
Promoting quality education is our primary goal. We raise awareness of the literacy crisis and improve global literacy standards by delivering programs, conferences and best advice. We believe that bringing together governments, NGOs and educators is the best way to guide and inform local communities and the public.
We also work in partnership with local communities and organizations to implement sustainable programs which raise literacy standards and give individuals every possible chance to receive a quality education.
Our programs include providing impoverished communities with access to basic literacy and teaching resources through the provision of books, literacy packs and electronic resources, delivering learn to read programs and offering support and guidance to organizations in developing countries.
To date, our programs have reached over one million children and adults in communities in countries including India, Colombia, Pakistan, Mozambique, Australia, Indonesia and Uganda. We will continue to grow and reach millions more. We will not rest until every child has the opportunity to learn to read and write.
Poverty and illiteracy are powerful forces that are inextricably linked. It is easy to believe these problems are simply too big to solve. What successes can World Literacy Foundation point to that makes your organization believe that illiteracy and poverty can someday be eradicated?
Poverty and illiteracy are very closely linked, something that is outlined by many statistics. On average each year of primary schooling a child completes will increase the wages they earn later in life by 5-15% for boys and an even greater percentage for girls. And in history, no country has ever achieved rapid economic growth without first having 40% of its adult population literate.
Literacy rates are also linked to rates of child mortality, life expectancy, crime, unemployment, HIV/AIDS and sustainable development. Put simply: education and literacy are the best tools we have for conquering poverty.
Our Foundation has had a number of successes in our programs that have not only touched my heart, but also given me hope that we will one day eradicate poverty for good. We have recently launched a new learn to read program for children living in the city slums of Manizales in Colombia. The poverty and isolation in the area means that many of the children that attend the program do not attend school regularly, if at all.
After only a few months the reading standards of most of the children who attend regularly has increased dramatically. Liliana, an 8 year old girl, read her first book from cover to cover all by herself this week. Not so long ago she was struggling with even the most basic. I am told that she was so excited upon finishing it that she chose her next book to read straight away! Now she says she wants to be an author when she grows up!
Budding Reader is delighted to be donating eBooks to your organization. So far through your organization more than a 1000 children in Africa have benefited from Budding Reader eBooks. What role do electronic books have in the future of World Literacy Foundation’s efforts?
Advances in digital technology and the growth of fast internet services are providing us with countless opportunities for us to introduce our work to new markets and reach people across the globe almost instantly. The deliveries of digital literacy programs are also extremely cost effective.
The future of education is becoming more and more influenced by digital technology and electronic books have a huge part to do with this. As a Foundation more and more of our programs will make use of this technology. The cost-effectiveness and efficiency in delivery of the product is something that we cannot ignore.
Plus, our research has shown that students can acquire literacy and numeracy skills up to 40% faster when using digital technology such as e-readers than without!
World Literacy Foundation was the force behind the inaugural World Literacy Summit held in Oxford, UK in April of this year. The Summit brought together approximately 250 people from more than 50 countries. What was the most meaningful outcome of this gathering?
The Summit provided a unique platform for global champions of literacy –across a range of sectors- to come together, network and discuss solutions to improve literacy standards worldwide.
The most meaningful outcome of the World Literacy Summit was the Oxford Declaration. Together, all delegates who participated in the Summit outlined the key action points required to improve global literacy standards. The document can be read in full at www.oxforddeclaration.org.
Now, we are using the Declaration as a tool to break down the barriers between government, business, non-government organizations, educational institutions and the world’s citizens in a bid to promote greater literacy.