“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass
Here, at this page, is one of the greatest freedoms we take for granted: our ability to read, to translate the world and have the larger world translated to us. Our literacy builds bridges that connect us with people around the planet, economic opportunity, choices, play, empowerment — and if we don’t have those? Our ability to read and write are our modern day weapons and search tools. They help us think. They help us find a way to the person, place, idea, or thing that will get us what we need.
Today UNESCO marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day, a day that celebrates efforts to raise literacy rates across the world — and reminds us that, beyond this page, this freedom is far from achieved.
According to UNESCO, it may be 2084 before we see universal education across the world. The recently released Global Education Monitoring Report shared that 263 million children worldwide — nearly the size of the entire population of the United States — were out of school as of 2014. The challenge looms large and girls, students with disabilities, and students from minority groups as well as refugee children of any school age remain grossly over represented among those denied schooling. While the structures for a universal primary education may be a generation away (by 2042), universal secondary education may take us until nearly the close of this century to reach hundreds of millions of children — resources and systems trailing far behind need.
Today, in East Africa alone, two of every three children lack access to secondary schooling. As a team, we are racing to impact a million lives by 2020 through classroom learning, development for economic opportunity beyond the classroom, and a special emphasis on the advancement of girls.
Since 2006, we’ve helped create safe learning spaces and equip students with the tools they need to access every opportunity at their grasp. We strengthen the capacity, talent, and resiliency of communities, teachers, and particularly girls in the classroom and beyond. So that our youth, our parents, our teachers, our schools, our communities of East Africa can turn the page.
Will you go beyond the page with us?