by Ryan Brady

20% of the world’s population is illiterate. Imagine if 20 people in your grade couldn’t read.

The World Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 to promote literacy and education by providing learning resources and teaching materials. The foundation specifically believes that “education is a fundamental human right,” and therefore “all individuals should be afforded the same opportunities for their future.”

I’m sure you realize that literacy is important, but it illiteracy is also the root of many societal issues today. From Our World in Data, it has been determined that literacy reduces inequality, gender gaps, and race gaps, because by becoming literate, one sets themselves up for success. The graph below depicts the trend of decreasing illiteracy, however, 20% illiteracy is still extremely high considering the importance of language and communication.

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Predictably, countries with less resources have higher rates of illiteracy. This is shown in the graph below.

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The issue is, though, is that illiterate people from countries without resources have a much lower chance of bringing change to their country to promote literacy. Without intervention, illiteracy is just a downward spiral that worsens as it is difficult for illiterate people to change the circumstances of their country. This is why the World Literacy Foundation works so hard to provide resources and aid all around the world, especially in struggling countries — so that people can change their situations.

There are ways that we can all help promote literacy in our own community! For example, Lake Erie Ink “provides creative expression opportunities and academic support for youth in the Greater Cleveland Community.” Learn more about them and volunteering with them here.

Also, the Cleveland Book Bank provides books to children all around Cleveland, and you can volunteer with HB! Learn more here.

To learn more about the World Literacy Foundation, you can visit their website:


“About Us | Lake Erie Ink: A Writing Space For Youth.” N. p., 2018. Web. 27 Nov. 2018.

Kay, Andy et al. “The World Literacy Foundation – Who We Are.” World Literacy Foundation. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 Nov. 2018.

“Literacy.” Our World in Data. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 Nov. 2018.

“What We Do.” N. p., 2018. Web. 27 Nov. 2018.