While most of us take the gift of literacy for granted, it is shocking to learn that illiteracy affects nearly 17% of adults worldwide – the vast majority of them women, according to UNESCO. September 8, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and aims to actively promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies across the globe.
Four-year-old Angel attends Kellett Cares Kindergarten in Bacolod City, one of the 74 donor-funded Jumpstart kindergartens run by ICM. Life is hard for Angel’s single mother who supports her five children by working as a utility worker in a shopping mall and taking on other jobs to enable the family to survive.
Angel loves going to her kindergarten, saying that she wants to be “intelligent” and grow up to become a teacher. She is eager to learn to read and her favorite story is about Mary, Joseph and Jesus and any other story that features an angel, just like her!
Happily, all the members of Angel’s family have had the opportunity to learn to read. However, for those who are illiterate some of life’s most essential necessities become out of reach, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and illness. That’s why early intervention is key and educating children like Angel gives the gift of lifelong skills, which lead to future opportunities.
Literacy is something that we should all care about and view as a fundamental human right, giving dignity and respect. As Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General, says, “Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all.”