The United States is one of the most fortunate countries in terms of literacy, with 99 percent of all people over the age of 15 having the ability to read and write. Other places, like Sub-Saharan Africa, are not so fortunate: only 63 percent of their population is capable of reading and writing. Haiti is another example of a shocking literacy rate, in which only 48.7 percent of their population is deemed literate. Around the world there are 793 illiterate adults and children craving to learn and understand. LitWorld seeks to change these numbers and actively reduce them through working with the people in these countries.
LitWorld is a nonprofit founded by Pam Allyn in 2008 that advocates for worldwide literacy and the right for everyone to have the same access to education. The organization also believes that education and literacy have the ability to change the world and break the cycle of poverty.
To date, they have launched programs abroad in Kenya, Haiti, and the Philippines, and here in the U.S. in New York City. These programs work to deal with the issue head on and tackle the problem effectively by involving teachers, program directors, and the parents of the children.
Among their active worldwide projects are the LitClubs and the LitCamps. The clubs are weekly two hour meetings outside of school that help boys and girls learn the necessary skills for reading and writing by having them write their own stories. Not only does this help them strengthen their technical skills, it is also believed to help cultivate LitWorld’s seven core strengths: belonging, curiosity, friendship, confidence, courage, kindness, and hope.
So far, the clubs are established in Ghana, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda, as well as all throughout the United States. Currently, they are available to both boys and girls in school, but a club for parents is currently in the testing phases.
The LitCamps work in much the same way, but are only in session in the summer and winter. They can last anywhere from seven days to five weeks and harbor the same goals and principles as the clubs do. Students get to enjoy the normal aspects of camp and make friends, while increasing their abilities to read and write.
During the summer, children, especially those in poverty, lack access to learning and books which can be seriously detrimental to their literacy. LitWorld hopes to battle this issue by providing a fun and interesting camp that is free of cost to the community.
On October 11, LitWorld will be celebrating Stand Up for Girls! during the UN’s International Day of the Girl. LitWorld will be standing up by collecting stories about inspirational women and girls to put together in a narrative. They believe that all women and girls have the write to a proper education and the ability to read and write. There are 523 million females worldwide that cannot do either of these things, and they think it is high time for a change.
They offer activity packets to use on the International Day of the Girl and invite anyone to share their stories.