See the Surprising Ways Teaching People to Read Could Cure the World's Ills
The 26 letters of the Roman alphabet—that's the foundation of being able to read a book or a magazine, of being able to complete a homework assignment, fill out a job application, or search for information on the Internet. Now a new campaign and video from Project Literacy, a coalition of about 40 NGOs, nonprofits, and businesses, is using those letters to turn the spotlight on all the problems that eradicating illiteracy could help solve.
Instead of the typical “A is for apple” letter-word associations taught to children, the campaign's Alphabet of Illiteracy connects the letters to some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As seen in the clip above, A is for AIDS, B is for bloodshed, C is for child brides, and so on, while animated figures demonstrate the devastation caused by those issues.
On the Project Literacy website, clicking on each letter reveals how each issue connects to illiteracy. Select the letter C, for example, and a shareable page details how learning to read and write keeps girls from becoming child brides. "UNESCO has found if all women had primary school level education, child marriages would drop by 1/6. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone that's half a million girls. Literacy is key to keeping a girl’s childhood innocent," according to the website.
Indeed, data from the U.N. reveals that some 781 million people around the world over the age of 15 are illiterate, and women are disproportionately affected—They're a staggering two-thirds of that population.
But the campaign isn't just raising awareness of problems; it's also asking people to lend their support to a petition to the United Nations. "Illiteracy fuels poverty, hunger, radicalisation, the spread of HIV, child brides, infant mortality and gender inequality. And it has to stop. We want the UN to put literacy at the heart of every action to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development," according to the petition.
“Literacy is a key component in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals. Without literacy, each of the 17 goals will be limited by the inability of citizens to be sufficiently informed on key issues, and less empowered to take action,” Dan Wagner, the UNESCO chair in learning and literacy at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.