With the sustainable development goals working toward ending world poverty by 2030, the most important aspect of sustainability is literacy. Educating women and children who are otherwise denied the opportunity to read and write will improve heath, decrease poverty and build economies in developing nations.
Although programs focus to educate children, it is vital for adults to become literate in order for the SDG to succeed. More than half of the adults in Ethiopa, Haiti, Niger and 11 other countries are illiterate. “Literacy can help societies heal, advance political processes and contribute to the common good,” says U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The U.N. has understood the importance literacy has on sustainable development by implementing International Literacy Day. “UNESCO’s policy today is to support the promotion of literacy and literate environments as an integral part of lifelong learning and to keep literacy high on national and international agenda,” according to UNESCO. On Sept. 8, the U.N. will bring awareness to why literacy is so important to ending global poverty. This year the theme will be Literacy for All, which will focus on literacy as a human right.
USAID also recognizes literacy as a driving force in the goal to end world poverty. Rwanda has been one of the many countries USAID has assisted in improving education for women and children. They have held competitions to inspire children in literacy and have provided teachers with materials and proper training.
Both USAID and the U.N. have awarded countries to help better improve literacy as a whole. “For decades, USAID has been a global leader in improving reading for developing countries,” says USAID. Their work in Rwanda has increased the access in education and improved the attendance of children in primary school.
Every year UNESCO awards $20,000 to programs aiming to improve literacy in rural areas. The five awards are presented on International Literacy Day and are funded by Korea and China. Funding schools in developing countries will help lift people out of poverty quickly and sustainably. It is important to maintain a focus on literacy in order to achieve the sustainable development goals.
– Kimberly Quitzon