It’s International Literacy Day! The Incredible Power of Education
Why does it matter?
Today is International Literacy Day, and we're celebrating the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. We are working to promote worldwide awareness and action to improve literacy rates. This day also gives us an opportunity to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made over the years in improving global literacy rates, challenges persist with over three quarters of a billion people still lacking basic literacy skills.
Literacy is not just about being able to read and write. It is also about the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It allows people to communicate their thoughts and ideas, learn new information, and participate in their communities. It’s a fundamental skill that everyone should have access to.
Back to School!
This week has been full of excitement and new beginnings for many! Children and young people up and down the UK returned to school after their summer break – the start of another year of learning and discovery! For some, it was no doubt a joyous occasion, while others may have been feeling a little bit nervous!
Going back to school can evoke different feelings amongst different children, you’ll find some are extremely excited to connect with their friends and learn lots of new interesting things, some may struggle with getting back into a routine after staying up late to play video games or to watch movies during their summer break, but one thing’s for sure - these children can grow up happy in the knowledge that they have access to a safe learning environment and the opportunity for a brighter future.
However, for millions of children around the world, this is sadly not the reality. Around 60 million children of primary school age are not in school – meaning that each day, 60 million children are missing out on the chance to learn to read and write.
Access to Education
It’s a sad truth that many people around the world don’t have access to education. This is due, in part, to structural problems. Marginalisation, structural poverty, gender inequality, and lack of government resources all contribute to this worrying issue.
In many rural parts of the developing world, the infrastructure is simply not there. Not only are the educational fees of some schools too high, but the schools themselves are often located far away from rural villages. This can make getting an education a difficult task.
Through our Education First programme, Penny Appeal is committed to contributing towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Number 4, Target 2: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
We have spent over a decade making schools available and accessible to those who yearn for an education but face significant financial and geographical barriers. Through the programme, we build new schools and renovate existing schools that have damaged/badly functioning buildings. This helps to ensure that children in rural areas have access to the safe learning environments that many of us take for granted each day.
For Hina, a bright and enthusiastic 9-year-old girl living in Kashmir, the lack of a proper school building for girls meant that she almost missed out on an education altogether. It was highlighted as the main reason for girls in her area being illiterate.
Hina’s predominantly-female school was originally constructed in the nineties and was soon upgraded to include both a primary school and a high school – but it didn’t have enough space available to meet the increased demand for places. A short while after the tragic earthquake in 2005, the school began making use of some of the shelters that had been originally provided for emergency relief. However, these shelters had been placed on private property, and after some time the owner decided to evacuate the school from his land. This left the primary school aged girls in an unfortunate situation, as they had to take their classes in tents on the school grounds. Often, they had no choice but to study in the open sky, which meant that in the summer, when temperatures hit 40°C, they stayed at home to avoid the insufferable heat and missed out on vital lessons.
“We were studying in miserable conditions; we had no school building, no washrooms, and no clean drinking facilities,” Hina told a Penny Appeal representative. “We had no proper sitting arrangements, and we often had to sit on the ground. We had many issues, but during the harsh weather conditions in winter and summer seasons we weren’t even able to attend school.”
Penny Appeal selected the school, which was in urgent need of renovation, to receive the support of our Education First programme. We constructed additional classrooms and other missing facilities for the school, such as water supplies, toilets, boundary walls, and furniture. These improvements have given the 1008 children in the area access to a hugely improved learning environment. Structural support can make a world of difference!
Hina, who wants to become a doctor one day, was delighted with the improvements to her school. “Penny Appeal has constructed a new school building for us including washroom facilities, clean drinking facilities, and electricity,” she told our interviewers. “The kind donors have also provided us desks and benches for sitting and placing our bags! Now we feel very comfortable, and we have a healthy environment to learn and study!
Hina’s parents said: “the construction of this school building will benefit the future generation of our village and the younger children will get an effective and efficient atmosphere to learn and serve their society.”
You can show your support for this work, and for similar education projects around the world, by donating to Penny Appeal’s Education First appeal, or by sponsoring a Hifz Orphan child to receive a holistic faith-based education.
We must continue working together so that every child has a chance at a bright future. Together, we can continue to make a BIG difference!
THURSDAY 8 SEP 2022