Reading the Writings on the Wall: International Literacy Day 2019

September 09, 2019

First celebrated in 1967, International Literacy Day highlights the importance of literacy for the development of individuals and societies at large but also calls attention to a major global challenge and awareness loophole. Literacy levels across the globe have drastically risen in the last couple of centuries. While only 12% of people in the world could read and write around 1820, today only 17% of the world population remains illiterate. Over the past 65 years, the global literacy rate has increased by 4% every five years—from 42% in 1960 to 86% in 2015

Despite improvements worldwide, the common assumption that illiteracy is no longer a challenge is wrong.  According to the UN, 775 million adults lack basic literacy skills; that is approximately one in five adults in developing countries. The lack of literacy among certain communities establishes further, indirect challenges such as gender inequality. Approximately two-thirds of the 775 million adults are women, allocating women to dependable, and physically exhausting labor. 

The privilege of literacy, associated with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) focused on Quality Education (SDG 4), opens endless doors for development opportunities. The interconnected web of the SDGs allows for a heavy ‘ripple effect’ impact across the 17 Goals. Expanding literacy impacts other SDGs such as eradicating poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 and 2), reducing gender inequalities (SDG 5), and expanding access to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).

At CAF America we are proud to celebrate the 52nd International Literacy Day. Through our donors, we have joined the fight against illiteracy. CAF America has seen a 246.15% increase in grants focusing on fighting illiteracy between 2018 and 2019 alone.

To read more about our fight for literacy and other causes, visit our Stories of Philanthropy page.

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