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Technology to promote literacy

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an independent state comprised of about 600 small islands, that also shares a land border with Indonesia. PNG uses technology to promote literacy in a number of ways. PNG broke off from Australia in 1975 but still receives substantial economic, geographical and educational gains from the country. However, the Australian government reports that in spite of their economic growth and middle-income country status (due to agricultural and mineral wealth), “PNG’s social indicators are among the worst in the Asia Pacific. Approximately 85 percent of PNG’s mainly rural population is poor and an estimated 18 percent of people are extremely poor.”

The World Bank details that PNG also faces a “vexing” situation regarding their remoteness and number of languages. Communities in PNG are very closed off from one another and land travel is strenuous. PNG has 563 airports and air travel has proven to be the common way to get from one place to another. At over 800 languages, PNG is recognized as “the most linguistically diverse country in the world.” As a result of these two factors, PNG’s education system faces a variety of challenges. PNG was ranked 153 on the Human Development Index in 2017, and its adult literacy rate was reported to be 63.4 percent in 2015. Australian Aid and the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) cooperated to produce The SMS Story research project, a way to use technology to promote literacy.

The goal of the SMS Story Research Project was to ascertain whether daily text message stories and lessons would improve the reading ability of children in grades 1 and 2 in Papua New Guinea. The text messages were sent to elementary school teachers in the Madang Province and Simbu Province using a free, open-source software program called Frontline SMS. The project was a controlled trial with two groups, one group of teachers received the message and the other did not. About 2500 students were evaluated before and after the trial. Using statistical testing, it was determined that the reading ability of the group who received text messages was higher than that of the group that did not.

It was found that the schools participating in the study had little to no reading books in the classroom and that students in groups without an SMS story were “twice as likely to be unable to read a single word of three sub-tests (decodable words, sight words and oral reading).” It seemed that many classrooms in PNG did not provide easy access to reading materials or proper reading lessons.

Amanda Watson, a researcher involved with the project stated that the SMS stories were helpful to the teachers as well. She says, “The teachers actually received almost like a reminder to teach, a bit of a motivator to keep teaching and they received that every single day and we think that really helped them to realize that they’re supposed to be teaching reading every single day, five days a week.” This suggests that before the trial, some of the teachers may not have promoted reading as much as they should have, either due to lack of access to materials or not realizing its importance.

Daniel A. Wagner, of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues, detail the importance of using technology to promote literacy in countries with minimal access to education or educational materials in their paper, “Mobiles for Literacy in Developing Countries: An Effectiveness Framework”. He underlines the importance of promoting literacy through information and communications technologies (ICTs) in today’s world where there are “more connected mobile devices than people” and provides several examples of organizations that are working towards increasing literacy through ICTs.

The Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI) is run in South Africa by the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy. They aim to “improve literacy through interactive, computer-based lessons” created by the University of Pennsylvania’s International Literacy Institute (ILI). They provide access to educational materials and issue students with “mother-tongue resources” in regions where computer sources or books are mostly in English. Comparably, Ustad Mobile is an application in Afghanistan that runs offline on phones. They center around instructing reading comprehension, listening, and numeracy. Teachers and students can download and share lessons; the app also includes exercises, videos and interactive quizzes in order to “mobilize education for all”.

BBC Janala is another project using technology to promote literacy in Bangladesh. It is a multi-platform service and can be accessed through TV, internet, print and mobile phones. BBC Janala concentrates on teaching English through three-minute audio lessons, quizzes, TV shows, newspapers, textbooks and CDs.

Illiteracy is an issue in Papua New Guinea; most likely due to the lack of reading materials and importance placed on literacy. However projects like, “The SMS Story” are all over the world and are working towards using technology to promote literacy one step at a time.

Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

the urban-rural poverty gap in morocco

Though Morocco’s economic and political status has improved as a result of King Muhammad VI’s reign, the North African nation remains impoverished. Specifically, the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco is one of the nation’s most complex issues. Morocco’s larger cities, namely Casablanca and Rabat, are evolving into flourishing economic centers, attracting companies and tourists from around the world. Simultaneously, Morocco’s rural and agrarian communities–the Amazigh people–have found themselves stuck living with little access to modern commodities.

A First-Hand Account

Sophie Boyd, an undergraduate student majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Colgate University, studied abroad in Rabat last summer. Boyd provided the Borgen Project some insight into the poverty situation in the North African nation. “There was a huge disparity between the living conditions of Moroccans in cities compared to the rural Amazigh villages we visited,” Boyd said. “You could be wandering around the enormous shopping mall in Casablanca and still only be an hour drive away from people who live with almost no electricity. This extreme gap was unfortunate to see and these neglected and impoverished people desperately need more accessible resources and aid.”

The Amazigh People

Unfortunately, Boyd’s observations were fairly accurate and realistic, as Morocco’s Amazigh population has faced hardship and poverty for decades. Though there are about 19 million Amazigh people living in Morocco, which makes up approximately 52 percent of the nation’s population. Their language, known as Tamazight, was not even recognized as an official language of Morocco until 2011. Not only do the Amazigh people who occupy these rural communities not have adequate means to subsist on, but they had also lost their representative voice in the Moroccan government until recently.

Urban Gains

A 2017 study conducted by the World Bank and the Morocco High Commission for Planning found that poverty was actually decreasing at a much faster rate in urban areas than in rural communities. This makes sense considering there is more room for economic growth and consumption in urban centers. Still, this phenomenon contributes to the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco and creates an even more drastic inequality between rural and urban communities.

Poverty Rising

Another aspect of the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco that has continued to develop over time is the concept of subjective poverty. The subjective poverty rate refers to the percentage of people, in this case, Moroccans, who consider themselves to be poor or impoverished. The aforementioned World Bank study found that from 2007 to 2014, the subjective poverty rate in rural areas increased from 15 percent to 54 percent. This drastic increase can be partially attributed to the recent economic growth in urban areas. However, it may also have to do with the daily living conditions of the rural Amazigh communities. For example, CIA World Factbook states that only 68.5 percent of Moroccans are literate. This can make life for rural people trying to emerge from poverty increasingly difficult, compounding with other factors such as the infertile, arid land.

A Hopeful Future, Still

The Moroccan government has made it a point to address the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco. The nation has already demonstrated its interest in resolving this gap through initiatives such as the National Initiative for Human Development Support Project, a plan launched in 2005 to try and close the poverty gap. Morocco will have to continue to work toward better living conditions in its rural communities. If the nation can fix issues like illiteracy and decrease the subjective poverty rate, then it will be well on its way toward closing the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco.

Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

Women empowerment and employment in India
India has certainly made substantial progress in recent decades, but the country has a long way to go when it comes to women empowerment. According to a World Bank report, India ranks 120th among 131 nations in women workforce. Improving women empowerment and employment in India are very important steps in achieving a poverty-free country.

Education

India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries in female literacy rates. Forty eight percent of females in India have attended till 5th standard, out of which only 15 percent of females who attended second standard are literate.

India falls short in female literacy rates in comparison to neighboring states like Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh; fortunately, though, the government is taking significant actions. To provide better education for the women, especially for the tagged “below poverty-level” families, the government has made concession packages on free books, uniforms, clothing and midday meals.

An article from the a 2016 Economic Times article states that “32 educational institutes have been built in villages of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.” Things cannot change in one go, but efforts are being made to increase women literacy rates, which are crucial to women empowerment and employment in India.

Domestic Violence

India is not the only nation with frequent stories of domestic violence — it happens all around the world. The only feature that sets India apart from other countries is that most women in India suffer in silence. According to a study done by ICRW, 52 percent of women have experienced violence in their entire lifetime, and 60 percent of men admitted acting violently against their partners.

The rate of reported incidents have increased in 2013 than 2003 and reporting is higher in areas where women are more educated and vocal. Varsha Sharma, senior police officer in Crime Against Women cell in Delhi said, “it’s a good thing that the number of cases is consistently rising because it means that women are refusing to suffer in silence.”

Employment

The Labor Force participation rate has declined from 42 percent (1993-94) to 31 percent (2011-12). Nearly 20 million Indian women quit work between 2011/12 and May 2014. The predictable reasons for this occurrence have always been patriarchy, marriage, motherhood, late nighttime schedules and security.

The female participation rates have been dropping since 2005, despite having 42 percent of women graduates per graduating cycle. As article from Hindustan Times says, “Women want to work but there are not enough jobs being created.”

According to BBC news, another possible reason for this drop in employment could be the recent expansion of secondary education; that is, women opting to continue studies rather than join work. At the same time, getting a higher education also does not ensure that women will eventually go to work.

Ela Bhatt, Indian Co-operative organizer and activist, states a very important fact: “Employment is empowering. It helps women to develop their identity and when they become organized they build up courage and confidence to talk to the police, the courts, banks or their husbands as equals.”

Gender Equality

India ranks fifth among all the nations in regard to skewed ratio of girls to boys. Gender discrimination begins at a very young age and starts, in fact, right from the beginning because of cultural preference for having a son rather than a daughter.

USAID, India and its partners are promoting programs of gender equality in the fields of food security, clean energy and environment, education, sanitation and health care. The outcome of these efforts was that 2.5 million girls and boys received equal attention and opportunity in classrooms.

India may be significantly behind in growth prospects with two thirds of women not working, so improving women empowerment and employment in India is very important to acquiring a more prosperous nation.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

Education in IndiaAlthough India has had substantial economic growth in the last ten years, one in five Indians is still poor. In rural areas, one in four lives under the poverty line. Almost half of the poor population cannot read or write, making it difficult for them to boost themselves out of poverty. With these considerations in mind, it is clear that education in India is crucial to reducing the number of the impoverished.

The British Empire controlled India from 1858 until 1947, so British influence can be seen in most sectors of the Indian public sphere. The education system, like many countries that were under British rule at some point, is divided into three major parts: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary education caters to children aged six to 14 and is similar to elementary and middle school in the United States. All Indian children are required to attend primary school and it is free of cost.

Secondary school, similar to American high school, instructs children aged 14 to 18. Secondary school is also free, except at private schools. At secondary school, children learn three languages: their local language, a language of their choice and English. Tertiary school, or higher education, has deep roots in Britain’s system. There are many universities and colleges in India that provide students with many educational tracts.

Public and private education is available in India, but the private schools are often more poorly funded and maintained. India has put more money into educating its children, and the percentage of adolescents without schooling has fallen about 40 percent in the last 40 years. The literacy rate has also increased substantially, even within the last 20 years.

However, education in India is far from where it needs to be. About 50 percent of nine-year-olds in India cannot do simple addition and 50 percent of 10-year-olds are unable to read a simple paragraph. These statistics are due to many factors. Many teachers in India are unqualified and the courses they teach are unable to accommodate the sheer number of students who are now in school. Their salaries are actually quite high due to union strikes, and many do not take their teaching job seriously. Every day, 25 percent of teachers do not show up to school.

There are many steps the country can take to improve education in India. In order to teach the large number of students now attending school, the curriculum must be altered so it is not catering to a small number of students. Teachers who do not show up for their positions must be held accountable by the government.

Female education is also neglected, with over 60 percent of girls dropping out of school. Legislation to support women pursuing education would help revitalize education in India and improve conditions for the impoverished, as educating women is the best way to lift communities out of poverty.

There are many organizations that are working toward improving education in India. Pratham, a nongovernmental organization, works with communities and the government to implement programs that invigorate teachers and students while minimizing costs. Founded in 1995, the organization’s programs have touched the lives of over 600,000 children.

Education for Life, a smaller organization, focuses on educating children in the rural areas of India. It currently has a little over 500 students at a small school in Rajasthan, and its efforts have improved the literacy rates in the area.

VIDYA, another nonprofit, works with the marginalized on an individual basis to empower them in their education. While there are still many ways education in India can be more effective, it is steadily improving thanks to the many nongovernmental organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults.

– Julia McCartney

Photo: Flickr

fostering academic growth in AfricaThe U.N. states that there are 48 million illiterate young people in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 60 percent of children aged 15 to 17 are not enrolled in schools. Book Aid International has made it its mission to change this by fostering academic growth in Africa.

 

Education for All

One of the major U.N. Millenium Development goals was to have all school children complete primary level education by 2015. Although this was not achieved universally, there have still been several accomplishments in the sphere of education, and there are more children in schools now than ever before.

The U.N. reports that, from 2000 to 2015, enrollment in primary education rose from 83 percent to 91 percent. Additionally, the literacy rate among youth aged 15 to 24 skyrocketed from 83 percent to 91 percent between 1990 and 2015. One nonprofit located in the U.K., Book Aid International, can be accredited for helping the U.N. achieve these goals.

 

The Gateway to Knowledge

Book Aid International is a firm believer that the gateway to knowledge is through reading. Access to information can prevent children from falling into poverty, increase future job opportunities and improve their life expectancy past the age of five by 50 percent. As a result, Book Aid International has developed a program revolved around the power of books called Inspiring Readers.

Inspiring Readers donates books to schools in Africa where resource scarcity is a major issue. Through this program, schools receive a library of 1,250 new books and selected teachers from the schools receive specialized training to ensure that the books will be well utilized. Inspiring Readers also ensures that each school gets further resources and assistance by partnering up with a local library.

The program has already seen success. One particular Kenyan school that partnered with Book Aid International has received recognition from the community for improved student academic performance. The school stated in 2017 that students’ test scores have improved from 48 percent to 54 percent in Kiswahili, 48 percent to 50 percent in English and 45 percent to 52 percent in science.

 

Fostering Academic Growth in Africa

Overall, Inspiring Readers has brought 63,710 books to 50 schools around Africa. The organization has also trained 150 teachers and 20 librarians. Consequently, 31,343 children have been impacted by this program. However, Book Aid International does not want to stop there. Its goal is to reach 250,000 children by 2020.

Book Aid International estimates that it needs £2,600 per school to achieve this goal. There are many ways to help the nonprofit meet this goal, but it relies mostly on donations for funding. Small amounts of money can make a huge difference, as Book Aid International indicates it only costs £2 to send one book to a partnering school. The organization also accepts donations of new books.

Book Aid International has already made huge strides forward in fostering academic growth in Africa, nurturing children’s interests in reading as well as training teachers to become better motivators and instructors. This will only lead children to success and will ultimately help the U.N. in accomplishing its goal of education for all.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

Literacy Rates in Northern NigeriaReading is an essential skill in every aspect of life, but in northern Nigeria, illiteracy is a major problem. The uneven development in the country has created an education gap between the north and the south. “Only about 14 percent of children in the northwest region can read a complete sentence, while that number jumps to almost 63 percent in the southwest,” per research conducted in a 2010 Nigeria Education Data Survey. By the time many students reach third grade, they still cannot read anything, no matter the language.

Northern Nigeria also lacks well-trained teachers and teaching materials, making it difficult to improve this problem. There is little parent involvement in schools, and the attendance at schools in the north each day is much lower than schools in the south.

The Nigeria Reading and Numeracy Activity (RANA) is working to change that. Their goal is to improve the literacy rates in northern Nigeria by providing long-term and far-reaching support for 200 schools.

RANA is working with schools to teach students to read in Hausa, a commonly spoken language in the northwest area of Nigeria. In its first year, 2016, RANA helped more than 500 teachers learn how to teach “an evidence-based reading methodology for Hausa.” Teachers also had check-ups each month with RANA’s trainers and got local support from their communities to help them improve literacy rates in northern Nigeria.

There are four main goals that RANA is focused on: “Aims to break every barrier to education access and quality; Invests in every teacher; Measures every outcome; and Connects every classroom.” Using Hausa as the primary teaching language makes it much easier for parents to engage, and teachers receive classroom materials written in Hausa to promote learning. Teachers can see their impact on students through the data that RANA collects, and they can share that success with other teachers through WhatsApp.

Local leaders, royalty and those in charge of the education system in northern Nigeria were encouraged to get involved in the movement as well. RANA’s goal was to promote “an environment conducive to reading that extends beyond the schools in which the project is being implemented.” With the support and understanding of leaders and the local communities, the mission to improve literacy rates in northern Nigeria became easier to accomplish.

The impact and success of RANA’s work have led to similar projects springing up in the area. Parents are encouraging their children to learn to read in Hausa by using RANA materials, and one community has even been photocopying the materials for use in their own schools.

RANA’s program has proven that improved literacy rates are possible in northern Nigeria, especially once communities come together and pay attention to the needs of their current students.

Mackenzie Fielder

Education in MoroccoSince Morocco’s independence in 1956, its education system has typically been described as frustrating and disappointing. In recent years, Morocco has made numerous improvements and committed to solidifying the quality of its education system. Here are five facts about education in Morocco.

  1. The academic year begins in September and ends in June. The school system is structured into three separate parts. Primary takes students starting at the age of 6 and educates them until the age of 12. Secondary and tertiary last another three years each. Morocco also offers educational options beyond public schooling with higher learning institutions.
  2. Learning and knowledge are typically measured through literacy, the ability to read and write. Reading and writing are essential to reaching higher levels of education and scoring well on national performance tests. Morocco’s youth have made tremendous strides in increasing their literacy rates. The World Bank reports 95 percent of youth ages 15-24 years old can effectively read and write. This is an increase from 81.5 percent in 2011.
  3. Men in Morocco currently dominate the gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary education systems. The UNESCO chart for secondary education shows that male enrollment exceeded female enrollment by 10.8 percent in 2012. However, tables for 2015 show a decreased gap in admission ratio for primary and tertiary education.
  4. Public spending on education has been significantly rising in Morocco. According to the OCP Policy Center, government spending on education in 2014 was about 5.9 percent of GDP and 21.3 percent of total government spending. Since 2002, payments have been increasing by more than 5 percent per year almost every year. One analysis from the International Monetary Fund confirms a more organized use of this money has the potential to lead standardized test scores to increase by 53 points.
  5. Morocco suffers from low-quality education as reflected in performance indicators. In a 2014 update completed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Morocco ranks in the thirtieth percentile for learning compared to other countries. The most recent PIRLS and TIMSS assessment results for 2011 showcase just how poor Morocco’s performance is. Test results reveal Morocco ranks second to last in math and last in reading compared to the 36 countries participating.

The good news is that experts and policymakers have fully recognized the remaining barriers for education in Morocco. A way forward has also been identified through their 2015-2030 Vision for Education in Morocco. The plan will address previous failures by targeting four specific areas including the priority for quality education. The country has already partnered with the USAID to make some of these goals a reality. So far 12,000 students have been reached with a new reading method and over 340 teachers have been trained on new reading instruction.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Strength of Words
Jose Alberto Gutierrez, a garbage man in Bogotá, Colombia, turns trashed books into treasure for the children in his community. For the past 20 years, Gutierrez has collected discarded books in the trash of the wealthier neighborhoods in Bogotá. He takes these books to his home in southern Bogotá, where he turned the first floor of his home into a free community library called The Strength of Words.

Gutierrez’s family could not afford for him to remain in school beyond primary. However, Gutierrez said his mother would still read to him every night and he credits her with his appreciation for books. So when he found a copy of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the idea sparked. He began taking 50 to 60 books home with him each day on the job.

The Strength of Words now holds more than 20,000 books, all of which were found in the trash. Before the library, the children in his neighborhood didn’t have easy access to reading material. Now, they have unlimited access to books that can help them with their schoolwork and fulfil their other interests. Either way, The Strength of Words has made it easier for the children in his community to learn.

The library is not just for school children. Adults also have access to the wide variety of texts. They can use the books to learn skills they otherwise did not have, which can help them get jobs or advance in those they already have. Gutierrez also provides books for Colombia’s peace process after being contacted by a fighter from the FARC rebel group, who wanted books to help transition fighters back into civilian life and prepare them for jobs.

No longer able to contain the whole collection in his home, Gutierrez distributes books to other poor and remote towns throughout Colombia. He believes that there should be multiple libraries in every neighborhood in all towns, cities and rural areas. And he is making strides to see his dream become a reality.

The success of The Strengths of Words is an inspiring story of how one man recognized a need in his community and sought to fix it. Because of Gutierrez, many children and adults now have easy access to educational reading materials in their own neighborhoods.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Pixabay


The Global Partnership for Education estimated that 264 million children were out of school during the 2015 school year. In low-to-middle-income countries around the world, one in four young people is illiterate. The quality of worldwide children’s education is not the only reason why 250 million kids either don’t make it past four years in school or have not learned basic math, reading or writing skills by grade four. So why aren’t children going to school?

  1. A country’s lack of funding for education contributes not only to the absence of actual schools and materials (400 million students worldwide do not have desks) but a low quantity and quality of teachers as well. Multiple education levels often make up one class, which impacts drop out rates and the overall quality of worldwide children’s education.
  2. Their families are poor. When a child’s parents are illiterate, unemployed or sick, all factors contributing to poverty, the risk of that child either dropping out of school or not going to school at all are doubled.
  3. Worldwide children’s education rates drop during times of war or conflict. According to UNICEF, about 48.5 million children do not attend school because they live in high conflict or war zones. In Syria, more than two million children are unable to attend school, with a quarter of schools no longer being used for educational purposes. About 50,000 education professionals have either fled the country or died in the fighting.
  4. Poor families often see no other option than to marry off their female children, a major cause of a lack of worldwide children’s education, particularly for girls. These victims of child marriage are restricted from education by immediate cultural obligations such as housework and pregnancy. A child with a literate mother is 50 percent more likely to live past five years old.
  5. School is too far away. Many children walk up to three hours to school each way. In an impoverished country where the children are hungry, disabled and responsible for working around the house, this is simply too much time to invest. Additionally, long and hazardous walks can be dangerous, especially for girls.
  6. There are 150 million disabled children around the world, with 80 percent in developing countries, and the rate is increasing. Nine out of 10 of these children are out of school. The reasons range from physical barriers to the negative attitudes from teachers to inadequate policies. ADD International based in the U.K. partners with and connects a network of disability activists around the world, providing tools, resources and support.
  7. They have to work. Eleven percent of children are child-laborers, which comes to 168 million young people.
  8. They or their families are sick. Even in first-world countries, illness can be a huge barrier for worldwide children’s education. Developing countries have less accessible healthcare, making it more difficult to prevent and treat even the simplest conditions. When parents have access to healthcare, they have a higher chance of being able to work to provide for their families.
  9. They are female. Females account for 54 percent of the non-schooled population globally. This problem is particularly common in the Arab States and Asia, where cultural norms dictate a higher value in men than women. Especially for menstruating girls, a lack of bathroom privacy and sanitary supplies can lead to missing school. In Somalia, where 36 percent of girls go to school, the government implemented the Go To School initiative in order to give more girls access to education.
  10. They are hungry. According to the Global Citizen, “Being severely malnourished, to the point, it impacts on brain development, can be the same as losing four grades of schooling.” In developing countries, stunted children are 19 percent less likely to be able to read by age eight. This is a problem, as there are 171 million children stunted by age five in these countries.

From 2002 to 2014, the Global Partnership for Education helped 64 million children make it to primary school in its partner countries. The organization supports 65 developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility and conflict.

The WE Movement partners with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to redesign villages that encourage sustainable community change. They build schools, educate teachers, deliver school supplies, build wells and water pumps, provide medical clinics and health training, assist with agriculture and food production and offer parents educational services.

Although there has been much progress in global education, the barriers holding children back from reaching their full potential through quality education still exist. When educated, young people are more likely to have the self-confidence and knowledge to better both their communities and their own livelihoods. Worldwide children’s education is an important tool in the overall reduction of global poverty.

Katherine Gallagher

Photo: Flickr


Literacy in India is distributed unevenly, and in the rural places where it is absent, it has continued to perpetuate poverty. Thirty-six percent of the world’s illiterate live in India, and one in five people were considered poor in 2016.

Room to Read is a program dedicated to using education as a weapon against that imbalance. It launched in 2003 in India and is now the most successful program among the 10 countries where it operates. By encouraging active reading habits and setting a goal to have all girls finish secondary school, literacy in India is improving immensely with the program’s help.

Students involved with the Room to Read Literacy Program read three times as fast as students in nearby schools, and of the 2014 graduates from the Girl’s Education Program, 84 percent went on to pursue post-secondary degrees.

Forty-seven percent of girls in India marry before the age of 18, and therefore do not pursue education. Young marriage perpetuates poverty, as the young women must provide for a family with limited opportunities. Today, female literacy in India is up to nearly 63 percent compared to 45 percent in 2000, and poverty is declining along with it.

For its humanitarian successes, Room to Read was given a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2006. This distinction represents the proven impact of an organization and grants it $1.25 million in support.

The sustainable model of Room to Read works largely with local governments to create a model of education that can be recreated and instated across developing countries even after the organization’s direct involvement has expired.

So far, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have been the most impressed in India, and have asked Room to Read to implement its educational system in the states for five years. What began as 360 schools in 2015 grew into 1,000 by 2016, and the three million children reached in India so far is expected to grow to a total of four million.

Putting that in the perspective of a campaign in its 14th active year, it is no surprise that Room to Read has benefited 11.5 million children globally, with its campaign in India ranking the most successful. Poverty will continue to become rare as literacy in India becomes the norm.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr