Four literacy projects changing the world as we know it

See how these projects use literacy as a tool for positive change.

We're celebrating World Literacy Day on 8 September 2018 by highlighting an online programme, Project Literacy. The project, a partnership with social impact company GOOD and learning company Pearson, tackles issues like education, poverty and human rights.

The trio showed what the numbers would look like if literacy was in everyone's reach. Currently, there are over 750 million people who can't read or write. It's a global issue. 

The company's focus stems from the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. The guide seeks to unlock new solutions from designers, artists, thought leaders and scientists.

With Project Literacy, the goal is that no child born will be at risk of poor literacy by 2030.

Here are some of the projects that make up their ongoing campaign, ‘Alphabet of Literacy’:

Literacy education in Liberia

Liberia has one of the lowest Literacy rates in West Africa and with a dying economy, the need to eradicate illiteracy is a must and thanks to non-government and non-profit educational organisation Alfalit, they have begun.

Their new “Sew to Sell” movement was created as a way to benefit the women of Liberia. The country's textile industry is a lucrative commodity, but the lack of literacy has hindered the craft's progress. With Sew to Sell, women are taught to read, write and comprehend while learning a textile craft. The programme hopes to produce a number of small business owners and, in turn, transform the country's economy. 

Since its inception in 2006, it has established over 400 literacy centres and equipped more than a hundred thousand students across Liberia.

Read more on Alfalit. 

Student voices

Teenagers often feel as though they are not heard or what they say holds no importance, which in the long-run can be damaging. Shout Mouse Press wants to avoid this outcome; the nonprofit writing programme and publishing house wants to give marginalised people back their voices.

The project more specifically works with authors of colour, authors who have a disability or authors who are not taken seriously due to age. With design at the centre, Shout Mouse customises design book projects and coaching programmes for those involved, encouraging students to tell their stories, real or fiction, through text or illustrations. Once a student has all their work together, they are able to professionally publish their books.

“Through writing workshops that lead to professional publication, we empower those from marginalized backgrounds to tell their own stories in their own voices and, as published authors, to act as leaders and agents of change.”- Shout Mouse Press 

Action on addiction

How do recovering addicts deal with sobriety? British non-profit organisation ‘Action on Addiction’ tackles this head-on as they turn to a new kind of therapy, and it has everything to do with art.

The team at Action on Addiction have used literacy as a way to bring forward some of the challenges people in recovery face, whether its personal issues, family or friends, they are exploring these feelings with creative writing, drawing and painting.

Offering workshops to clients, they use literacy and the written word to help with the recovery process.

In 2012 HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge became a patron for the programme, highlighting the importance of mental health through the sobriety process.

Books for all

Let's Read! Campaign

Books for Asia is launching Let's Read!, a project that uses low-cost technology to enable underprivileged children to attain the most essential of childhood experiences - the magic of becoming lost in a story. We are piloting the project in Cambodia, where we'll be equipping schools and mobile libraries with tablets loaded with Khmer- and English-language storybooks.

In many sectors of the world, the education system is still finding its feet. Take Cambodia for example. The country’s schooling has become a priority for most but because of illiteracy and high drop-out rates, many are suffering due to the lack of access to books.

This is where Books for Asia come in. The non-profit international organisation is putting an end to Cambodia’s illiteracy problem by making books more accessible through a program called “Let's Read!”. The Let's Read! library is their digital initiative which “creates, translates and delivers educational content to children any time, any place, in languages they use at home and school, dramatically improving access.”

Inspiring the community is also on their list, as the programme wants community members to read up about history and culture, so they are able to provide reliable translations to the world's most memorable literature, in their own language and for younger students.

Based in San Francisco, Books for Asia is now available in 20 different countries where they receive funding from different development agencies.

“In 2017, we provided $83.7 million in direct programme support and distributed textbooks and other educational materials valued at $8.7 million.” - The Asia Foundation

Read more on design activism: 

Two urban initiatives tackle housing & energy in Ghana 

This women-led tech school has an innovative curriculum at its core

Deepti Asthana is bringing rural Indian women into the global conversation on feminism

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