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Reading And Writing Can Right Your Child's World

September 8th is International Literacy Day, designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1965 to focus on the development of a crucial life skill for people all over the world. 

Literacy is traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, and to gain further knowledge through those skills.

In the United States, it’s the building block of all education, and for many, a basic right. The U.S. literacy rate is estimated at 99%.

If we look at the countries we serve, a few countries can come close to that. The Philippines, Jordan, and Zimbabwe have literacy rates above 92%. The Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Kenya, and Swaziland are all in the high 80s, and if we were listing these by highest rates, Honduras wouldn’t be far behind with just over 84% literacy rate.

And then for the second half of the countries where we minister, literacy rates plummet. Cambodia hovers around 74%, still recovering from the devastation of the Khmer Rouge era in the late 1970s that specifically targeted the educated classes and wiped out their education system.

India has 62% literacy; although barely half of all women over the age of 15 know how to read, 3 out of 4 men do, highlighting a disparity in educational opportunity based on gender. Nepal boasts just over 60% literacy with a similar breakdown along gender lines.

Bangladesh and Mozambique both struggle with a 56% literacy rate. Haiti’s rate in the most recent figures before the 2010 earthquake devastated its capital, found less than half (48%) of Haitians could read. And Ethiopia comes in last for our countries with an astonishing 39% literacy rate.

If those statistics didn’t make your eyes glaze over, we’re glad. Because you are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children who may be the first in their families to learn to read. Because of your sponsorship, your child can continue to receive an education and the support he or she needs to succeed. Because of sponsorship, we will see those country statistics change -- for the better.

Studies show that the gift of literacy continues to give – women with higher rates of education have healthier children and make more money. Older children who can read can encourage their younger siblings, ensuring more children stay in school.

We’ve shared before how your letters are mini-literacy lessons, giving your child (and possibly other family members) a chance to practice both reading and writing.

Your letters also break through the isolation of poverty and shatter the messages children hear through their circumstances – that no one cares, that they are the only ones who struggle, that they’ll never amount to more than this.

That’s why we’re focusing on education this year, because as a sponsor you can play a major role in encouraging your child’s schooling. Over the years, your sponsorship ensures your child can get the help they need to succeed while gaining confidence as they discover that the God who created them in His image also loves them dearly. We think that’s the best foundation for the future growth of any child, and we are so grateful for you for helping us build it!

If you haven’t sent in your “What I Learned” letter, please do so! We’ve received thousands of them, and they are incredible pieces of encouragement and strength for the children. Thank you for partnering with us. 

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