If you’re a student, you probably get assigned articles to read or papers to write — and, like most college students, you probably complain about it. However, the fact that you’re even able to read this article shows how lucky you are, because 1 in 6 people can’t.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there are approximately 758 million illiterate adults and children throughout the world. First celebrated on Sept. 8, 1966, International Literacy Day began as a way to “celebrate and honor the national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase literacy rates around the world.” This year marks the organization’s 51st anniversary of International Literacy Day, and it has continued to not only address a plethora of challenges that individuals face today but has also worked to find innovative solutions to help further boost literacy for adults and children both now and in the future.
While many surveys about literacy only include the results for adults, there are millions of children that are also struggling to learn how to read and write. Katie Knapp, a sophomore elementary education major, talked about the importance of literacy not only for adults but also for children.
“Literacy is vital for having a stable and supportive career in society, and it gives you mobility within society,” she said. “Our current education system in the United States offers many outside-of-school programs and in-school help that supports reading and learning, but internationally, there’s a gap in a child’s ability to become literate.” While the intentions of many education systems and teachers may be in the right place, there’s often a lack of resources. “There’s a lack of resources in the people that are able to teach, concerning how they were taught to effectively teach and also the extent to which they are literate,” Knapp said. “One effective teacher has the potential to affect hundreds of children.”
Illiteracy rates have been on the decline over the past 50 years, thanks to organizations like the Institute of Reading Development. The organization has worked to teach more than two million students and has trained more than five thousand teachers within the United States. The organization offers programs tailored to four-year olds all the way up to college students and adults, and has partnerships with many colleges and universities throughout the country.
“There are two main goals of the summer reading skills programs we’ve developed,” director of instruction said John Boyd the director of instruction at the Institute. “The first goal is to teach the skills students need to succeed at their current developmental level. The second goal is to help our students develop a love of reading and a habit of reading for pleasure.” In addition to the Institute of Reading Development, other organizations, such as the International Literary Association, also work toward transforming lives through literacy.
When it comes to having a successful future, literacy is one of the key components. While advances are being made to decrease illiteracy rates around the world, there are several things that you can do to help. By simply donating a book to a local library or volunteering to read or tutor at an elementary school, middle school or high school, you are able to make a difference in someone else’s life. Everyone has the right to read, so it’s time to make a change and give back.