When you read the book in your hand or an article on the internet, maybe much like this one, do you ever think, “Wow I can understand what this possibly random streak of alphabets on paper mean to convey to me”. No? Neither do I. However, when I started my Arabic language classes, I saw how hard reading can really be.
Literacy is something that most of us take for granted. I can recall when I was only a tiny child, perhaps the middle of the first decade of my life on planet earth, my mother talking to me in a mix of a multitude of languages. But talking and understanding a language is a completely different beast than reading and writing a language. If you came up to me today, I would be multilingual and fluent, as most Indians are, however if you asked me to write sentences in the same languages, you will find me puzzled, as most Indians are.
When I decided to take up Arabic, I discovered the difficulty of learning a language from scratch when you’re no longer a child and believe me, it is not the most pleasant feeling. The letters don’t seem to go together, the pronunciation is impossible, and the sentences look a child’s construction with Lego.
Now imagine the lives of the millions of people, not only across India, but across the globe who are completely illiterate. People who can’t read a newspaper or browse through the internet. 287 million adults in India and 785 million across the globe are illiterate. These are the people that are being left behind in this era of rapid information gathering and dissemination.
We often think of issues in watertight compartments; this issue has education, this one with poverty, this one with food insecurity, and so on. However, if a person just thinks about it, they will realize that all of this is connected. The issue of illiteracy does not just have to deal with education, it has to deal with poverty, food insecurity, political instability, and a plethora of other reasons.
The UNFAO once estimated that 57 million children worldwide, would not be able to attend primary school, 80% of which were living in rural areas, and that is how this cycle of poverty and hunger continues victimizing the families those who are already victims of its viciousness.
The UN has launched multiple efforts and agendas to combat these issues but with mild success. Currently, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 1,2 and 4 deal with the issues of poverty, food insecurity, and education for all, however even this will result in mild success unless it is boosted by everyone who can and that includes us.
Every drop contributes to the ocean is one of the most meaningful phrases I have heard of in my life so far and I will definitely do all that I can to combat the issues of inequalities of all form. There are so many things a young person can do: volunteer at your local primary school, give the children in your neighborhood tuition classes or even give weekend classes to the impoverished children around your residential society. Help those worse off than you to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty and help them to achieve and attain their fullest potential. Education truly is the stepping stone to all success.
“Opportunities to do great and wonderful things are usually
small and always there for those looking”
Picture Credits: Kunal Raj