Global illiteracy is still a major issue in the 21st century with 774 million illiterate adults (people over the age of 15) all over the world.
493 million (two-thirds) of those illiterate adults are women. This discrepancy is shocking to many of us but it is one that needs to be addressed.
Back in 2010 the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation director-general, Irina Bokova, said: “newly literate women have a positive ripple effect on all development indicators”. Teaching women to read has a great positive affect on the development of themselves, their family and their community.
Katy Newell-Jones of Feed the Minds supports Bokova’s comments by adding: “On its own, literacy neither saves lives nor fills hungry mouths. However, we encounter women’s literacy time and time again as a valuable component in women’s empowerment. A woman who is able to keep her own business records is more likely to be able to manage her income and expenditure; and the children of a literate mother are more likely to complete their education.”
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education report on women’s right to literacy insists on an holistic approach to literacy education. It is more effective to teach reading and writing while linking it to practical and useful skills: “Literacy learning is particularly effective when it is linked to, integrated with or embedded in other learning. Such approaches produce stronger outcomes in both literacy and vocational education and training. Women who want to be successful traders, efficient farmers, contribute to school governance and rear healthy children must be equipped with the necessary, associated literacy skills.”
Check out the BBC video below for further insight into the global literacy problem.