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How Literacy Reduces Poverty

Literacy is a crucial socioeconomic factor in poverty. In developing countries, approximately one in every two adults can’t read or write, with the situation only worse in the rural areas, especially for women and minors. UNESCO is working to prove that literacy reduces poverty and to support initiatives in the area.

According to UNICEF, “Children and youth living in rural areas have little access to education or skills training programs, and overall the quality of education in rural areas is generally low due to poverty and limited investment resources.”

Additionally, the drop-out rate for children leaving an educational institution after primary school is high, leaving minors without adequate literacy and skills to survive.

“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning,” according to UNESCO. “It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives… A literate community is a dynamic community, one that exchanges ideas and engages in debate. Illiteracy, however, is an obstacle to a better quality of life, and can even breed exclusion and violence.”

Better assessment of literacy challenges is critical to reducing global illiteracy. UNESCO’s main focus will be to encourage the governments of developing countries to consider education as a crucial instrument in driving development and transformation as well as in reducing poverty and empowering citizens.

“The administrative institutions of these countries have to prioritize the development and provision of access to primary education to children under 15 years,” said a spokesperson for UNESCO. Governments should provide literacy courses and basic skills training to people who left school or received no education at all.

Furthermore, this year UNESCO plans to introduce “livelihood-oriented adult non-formal education initiatives,” offered in partnership with other community-based organizations, in order to promote education, reduce illiteracy and alleviate poverty.

For more than 60 years, UNESCO has worked to ensure that literacy remains a priority; however, this year, the introduction of a program with a vision toward livelihood-oriented initiatives will bring a new type of dynamism to the effort.

“Literacy is at the core of sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems,” said former First Lady, Laura Bush. “Literacy builds the foundation for freedom from poverty, and freedom from oppression.”

Isabella Rölz

Sources: DDV International, UNESCO, The White House Education, Mrs. Bush
Photo: UN