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Rotarians take action on literacy
Category: Literacy | By RotaryGlobal, 8-Dec-2011 | Viewed 5759  Comments 0
212_940765539_4.jpgAs of this year, a new Rotarian Action Group was formed to combat illiteracy around the world. While the RAG is new, the efforts within Rotary toward improving global literacy has been going strong for many years. 

For virtually the whole of Rotary's century of existence, clubs have carried out projects to support education within their own communities. The second half of the 20th century saw a great increase in the number of club-to-club international education projects. Projects of this type are still occurring in increasing numbers. 

The launching of the Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) program of the Rotary Foundation in 1978 was followed by general awareness that achieving the goals of the 3-H program required the elimination of mass illiteracy worldwide. Much has been achieved in a number of nations around the world through cooperation between Rotary and national education authorities within what has become known as Rotary's Lighthouse Literacy Strategy.

The objective of Rotary's Lighthouse Literacy Strategy was to build a foundation from which Rotary could make a significant contribution to the worldwide elimination of mass illiteracy. That goal has been reached, however, the elimination of mass illiteracy, country by country, needs to be coordinated with employment, health, housing and other fundamental life-improvement projects at national and global levels.

To this time, it has been impossible for Rotary to broaden the scope of its Lighthouse Literacy Campaign beyond the development and implementation of effective curricula and teaching and teacher training strategies.

Developing programs in different countries to different age groups requires people with significant expertise. These educators are needed to train and guide other teachers until the site or country becomes a "literacy lighthouse" with the capacity to look after its own needs. They will then become the trainers of key people for other, new sites.

Global adult literacy according to the CIA Factbook.
Coordinating, monitoring and guiding projects requires competent technical and administrative support from many Rotarians. In extreme situations, there are often no available buildings fit for children and teachers to work in. Until remedied, implementation of an effective teaching program is beyond possibility.

Among the world of Rotarians exist a high level of skills, ingenuity and experience in many fields of endeavour. LITRAG looks forward to engaging those many great Rotarians, to have them lead the way to a world with a higher degree of literacy for everyone.

Rotary and Literacy


In 1985, Rotary declared basic literacy to be a pre-condition to the development of peace. Through this organizational emphasis, more than half the world's 33,000 Rotary clubs address the full range of literacy and mathematical challenges for primary, vocational, and adult learners as well as teacher training. Many Rotary club members promote what is termed "lighthouse" literacy projects - those that can be replicated easily, thereby increasing the scope of their impact. 

Lighthouse literacy projects have been created for formal schooling, older children who are not in school, functionally illiterate adults (particularly women), special groups, and teacher's training. The purpose of these projects is to inspire, guide and support national authorities toward alleviating mass illiteracy in developing countries. In Thailand, for example, the "lighthouse" literacy effort has been so successful that the government adopted it as a national program. Similar literacy initiatives have been sponsored by Rotary clubs in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt and Turkey. 

Below are some examples of literacy projects:

Global adult literacy according to the CIA Factbook.

Early Childhood Literacy and Primary Education

Early literacy training is critical to the success of a child's later education. Rotarians work with children, parents, and educators to encourage and build reading skills at an early age.  Some 115 Rotary clubs currently support the Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library, which provides a book each month to children from birth until age five. The program also helps strengthen families by encouraging positive interaction between parents and children through shared reading. Today, Imagination Library serves 47 states, along with parts of Canada and the United Kingdom, and has provided children with more than 15 million books. 

Adult Literacy Programs

Many adults in both the developed and developing world lack the skills they need to hold a job or perform basic
tasks required by everyday life. The hardships caused by illiteracy, from the difficulty in finding employment to the constant pressure to cover it up, often lead to a host of other problems. 

The Rotary Club of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, sponsored a project called "Provision of Educational Materials to the Agency for Adult and Non-Formal Education," with the objectives to reduce the population of illiterate adults in the Rivers State of Nigeria and to boost the Federal Government Universal Basic Education (UBE). 

Literacy and Women

Because girls do not have access to education in many parts of the world, the illiteracy rate among women exceeds that of men. Studies of illiteracy rates in low-income countries have shown a 20 percent difference between the genders. 
The Rotary Club of Budge Budge, India, started five literacy centers in remote village centers in remote village areas extending training to children, and young girls. To attract young girls and women, vocational training is offered, such as basket weaving, tailoring, and paper bag making. With these products, they can earn a living. The club has decided to maintain centers as both literacy and vocational training
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