September 9, 2013

Celebrating International Literacy Day

Guest Post by Selene Biffi

2006 YouthActionNet Fellow Selene Biffi is Founder and Executive Director of Plain Ink, based in Italy.

There are almost one billion illiterate people in the world. Or, if you prefer, one out of seven. Hard to believe, right?

And it is even harder if you consider the fact that literacy is a basic prerequisite in order to function in our current society: from asserting your voting rights to getting a job, from honing your professional skills to being able to understand how to take a medicine. No matter how you look at it, literacy is a basic human right and a prerequisite for reaching one’s full potential.

That is why it is not only important but paramount to see literacy as an enabler of change, and to remember that no real development – inclusive, participatory, and fair – could ever happen unless literacy is high on the agenda of governments and donors.

With this clearly in mind, I set out to create a tool that would help literacy programs to prosper. The result is Plain Ink, a social enterprise that creates stories and comics so that children and communities can find their own solutions to poverty and social exclusion quickly and effectively. In only a couple of years, Plain Ink has reached out to and empowered over 12,000 people in Afghanistan, India, and Italy.

But Plain Ink is only a drop in a sea, and the lack of literacy is as tough as any other matter to tackle, if not more. Acting in unison is therefore the only option we have. 

On this special day, I would like to encourage all of you to think of the difference that literacy makes in our daily lives and to pledge to contribute to it with a small act, be it reading a book for someone who cannot do it, or writing a few words to family and friends.

Become part of the global literacy movement yourself!
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