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The Hunger Project's Adult Literacy Program Is Giving Students A Second Chance In Mozambique

  Fátima Filimonecossa, a 55 year-old married mother, has three sons. She was born in Gaza Province and she lives in Zuza village with her husband, sons, grandchildren and daughters-in-law. She is a student in adult literacy in a class of 32 students (29 women and three men). Fatima shares with us her story of change. “I am a farmer and I always practiced agriculture in upland as means of income generation. The good thing that has happened in my life was the fact that my village had become part of an epicenter created by The Hunger Project-Mozambique. With the arrival of this project, I was able to become acquainted with the various programs. The Literacy Program appealed to me as I wished to go to school and I never had the opportunity to study. I started studying in 2010. Now I am doing the second level, and I want to go to the very end. At the beginning...
25 May
Credit: Flickr user Peretz Partensky

How A Love Of Reading Helped This Woman Go From Homeless to Harvard

It’s difficult not to be dazzled by the accomplishments of Connie Chung. The 38-year-old is a published author with a bachelor’s degree from UC-Berkeley and three graduate degrees from Harvard—two master’s and a doctorate of education. Given her academic prowess, one might be surprised to find that Chung spent six years of her youth homeless and alone on the streets of Los Angeles. At the time, Chung was in the throes of adolescence, and she recalls that school was one of the few places she could rely on for stability. And it’s a good thing she did; Chung says that childhood illiteracy is correlated to lifelong illiteracy. “A poor family doesn’t have books at home or maternal education, even if Mom is intelligent. If you’re despondent about life, and survival is a challenge, literacy won’t be a priority. These kids are told they’re stupid and that...
06 May
The latest report from the National Literacy Trust shows how kids' attitudes towards reading are changing

National Literacy Trust's 'Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015' Report

Each year, The National Literacy Trust conducts research into the attitudes towards reading of young people across the UK. This important work helps to understand the impact that parents, teachers and carers have on the awareness, belief and impact of the importance of literacy in building a successful future. This year, The National Literacy Trust, in its sixth annual survey, spoke to 32,569 children and young people. Their research reveals a gulf in reading enjoyment and attitudes between primary and secondary schoolers. The Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015 Report shows that just 40.2% of Key Stage 4 pupils (age 14 to 16) say they enjoy reading, versus 72.6% of Key Stage 2 pupils (age 8 to 11). Pupils at Key Stage 4 are also much less likely to see the relevance of reading to employability, with only 36.4% feeling that being good at reading will lead to...
28 April
The Hafiznagar slum in Assam, India. Credit: Sarita Santoshini

These Kids In India Are Saving Others From A Life Of Child Slavery

  In Assam, India, 12-year-old Sahidul Ali returned from school with a big grin on his face and headed straight to the office of Universal Team for Social Action and Help (UTSAH), a local NGO. Holding a certificate and wearing a shiny gold medal around his neck, Ali announced that he’d finished second in a 100 meter race. He was immediately embraced in hugs and cajoled into posing for several phone cameras, including this writer’s. After spending some time narrating his victory, he walked across the road into a narrow lane and across a number of railway tracks. There, in one of the many slums in Guwahati, the largest city in Assam, lay his home.  About 200,000 people in Assam live in slums. Living in extreme poverty in a small hut made of tin and bamboo, Ali’s family is one of thousands that migrated to the city in hopes of finding better work...
18 April
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Lurene Wright teaches a Jamaican Foundation for Life Long Learning class. Credit: Rebekah Kebede

Former Jamaican ‘Gangster’ Says Literacy May Be the Best Way to Fight Crime

Growing up in Bob Marley’s Trench Town neighborhood, David Chang always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I wanted to become a badman. That was my dream,” Chang says. And he did, although his career as a “badman” (Jamaican slang for “gangster”) was short-lived. At age 22, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a robbery gone wrong and spent eight years being bars. And that’s when he learned an unexpected new skill: how to read. Chang, 48, understands firsthand how illiteracy affects job prospects and creates frustrations. Twenty-two percent of Jamaican teens who were not literate and 11.4 percent of teens with only basic literacy levels reported behavioral problems. In comparison, only 5.5 percent of functionally literate teens reported behavioral problems, according to a 2007 USAID-funded study that looked at Jamaican teens ages 10 to 15....
31 March
 ‘When I’m reading, I don’t think I’m in prison.' Credit: Martin Godwin

Inside stories from a prison book group

“Katniss is a bad-arsed bitch,” says Seamus, a library orderly at HMP Thameside, an all-male, category B prison in south-east London. “I like a strong-minded woman. She reminds me of my mother.” Seamus is showing me around HMP Thameside’s library. As we walk, we talk books: he talks about The Hunger Games, reveals he is also a fan of Harry Potter. I ask him what he thinks of JK Rowling’s heroine. He grins, tells me he wants to call his daughter Hermione. If a book can start a conversation, then just think what can spring from a whole library. As we mourn and fight the closure of many of...
03 May
Children in remote parts of Africa are accessing entire libraries through e-readers. Credit: Worldreader

Books and E-readers: Inspiring Africa’s Next Generation

At an event at London Book Fair this month, Book Aid International and Worldreader, two of the most active charities providing books and resources to the most remote and underprivileged parts of Africa, discussed how print and e-books are being used together to inspire young readers across the continent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, just over 71% of youth are literate, while only 35% of all homes have access to electricity. With such a large population, this means there are over 250 million primary school age children that are illiterate, limiting the opportunities and potential futures for a...
20 April
Target's clearly legible prescription labels were designed by a School of Visual Arts graduate—and they’re the exception in the United States. Credit: Flickr user Bart.

Our Prescription Labels Aren’t Just Confusing. They’re Dangerous.

Think about your most recent prescription medication bottle. The colors, symbols, fonts, and information contained there each served a specific purpose. But was that information understandable? For many people, it’s not. Half of U.S. patients don't understand the health information they receive, according to an estimate by the American Medical Association. The average American reads at an eighth-grade level, whereas most healthcare information, including labels on prescriptions, is written for college graduates. And that doesn't even take into consideration people who struggle...
29 March
Members of the Twelve Tribes group live as a collective. Credit: Twelve Tribes

This Woman Was Raised By a Notorious Cult. Here’s How She Finally Got Away.

For many of us, cults are a remnant of the 60s or an interesting cultural oddity worthy of a send-up from Tina Fey. But for survivors, cults are all too real—and all too common. While it’s impossible to keep track of how many people are involved with cults around the world because of their secretive nature, the International Cultic Studies Association estimates that at least 2.5 million Americans have joined cults over the past 40 years, and many of them went on to raise children in those organizations. Cults are just one of many kinds of radical groups worldwide,...
16 March
Project Literacy ambassador Lily Cole speak to CNN's Richard Quest. Credit: CNN

Project Literacy Ambassador, Lily Cole speaks to CNN International

Global Ambassador of Project Literacy, Lily Cole has appeared on CNN to discuss the impact illiteracy is having on gender inequality. Speaking to CNN’S Richard Quest on his Quest Means Business show the day after International Women’s Day, Lily Cole draws on the Alphabet of Illiteracy to show how increasing literacy levels across the globe can help close the gender gap. Two weeks previously, Lily Cole appeared in the UK parliament to call on world leaders to urgently tackle the global illiteracy crisis, which as Lily tells CNN, affects 757 million people in the world, two thirds of...
10 March

Here’s What Happens When Child Brides Go to School

Shanno*, a chirpy 15-year-old 10th grader, is nervous about her upcoming board examination. If she does well, she’ll be on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a bank manager one day. But just a few years ago, Shanno would never have presumed to hold such ambitions. She didn’t even know if she’d be able to receive a secondary education. Like many other villages near Jodhpur, a city in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, the hamlet she calls home—Meghwalon Ki Dhani—has only a single government primary school, which Shanno describes as being below standard. “I could not read much...
09 March

The Surprising Reason Some Teens Don’t Know Enough About Sex Ed

When you don’t have access to high-quality sex education, learning about sexual health becomes like a game of whispers: facts get distorted, passing misconceptions from person to person. Low levels of literacy and poor education skills just compound the problem. And, unfortunately, misinformation isn’t the only thing that spreads. Around the world, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major problem, with more than 1 million of them acquired every single day. In a 2015 report, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that rates of the most common STDS—...
02 March
Maya Tamang sends her two daughters to school to improve their future opportunities. Credit: @GOOD

The Curious Link Between Hungry Buffaloes and Gender Inequality in Nepal

Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, more than half of them residing in South Asian countries. And Maya Tamang, a 37-year-old farmer from rural Nepal, isn’t afraid to admit that she’s one of them. “When I was growing up, I had a lot of responsibilities [on] my family’s farm, so I went to school only for two years,” she says. Today, Tamang still has similar responsibilities. She cuts and gathers grass to feed her family’s buffaloes. But unlike her mother, she does this type of farmwork alone, sending her two daughters, ages 9 and 11, off to school...
26 February
Lily  Cole to launch Alphabet of Illiteracy campaign. Credit: Lily Cole

Lily Cole To Launch Alphabet of Illiteracy Campaign

  The actor Lily Cole will, on Tuesday, call on British MPs to urgently tackle the global illiteracy crisis. The UN estimates that 781 million people aged 15 or over are illiterate. Nearly two-thirds of illiterate adults are women. Child marriage, malnutrition, gender inequality and female genital mutilation could all be addressed if illiteracy, which affects one in 10 people, was put at the centre of efforts to tackle social, economic and environmental problems, according to campaigners. “We need to put illiteracy more central to our thinking,” said Cole, who will...
23 February

The Alphabet of Illiteracy: Sources and Character References

The following sources provide further detail and reading on the evidence base supporting the link between illiteracy and the issues identified in the Alphabet of Illiteracy. A is for Aids Education for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Testing (EHPT) is defined by us as the trait of communicating messages and teaching skills to individuals and communities and empowering them (e.g. with self-esteem) so that they could be better protected from HIV infection and its socio-economical, psychological and health consequences, have better access to HIV/AIDS voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) and...
23 February
It's estimated 66 million primary-school-age children attend class hungry. Credit: @GOOD

Inside the Fight for Free, Healthy School Food

  You know what they say: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Recent research suggests that breakfast can help children concentrate, improve their memory, and succeed at school. But for many families, breakfast is a tall order. In developing countries, the United Nations’ World Food Programme estimates that 66 million primary-school-age children attend class hungry. That spells trouble for their ability to learn. According to a 2013 report from Save the Children, kids who are chronically malnourished are 20 percent less literate than those with...
19 February

National Book Foundation Celebrates Reach Inc. With $10K Philanthropy Prize

The National Book Foundation held a talk and reception for Why Reading Matters: Engaging with Literary Activism Across the Globe where the winner and honorees of their Innovations in Reading Prize were announced. Winners of the Innovations in Reading Prize receive $10,000 to further their work through “innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading.” One of the first honorees of this award, started in 2009, wasJames Patterson’s website. To date the prolific and best-selling author has expanded on his pledge since readkiddoread donating...
16 February
E-books could increase the level and frequency of reading for boys. Credit: BBC News

Could E-Books Really Replace Paperbacks In Schools?

E-books are increasingly being used in classrooms by children as young as three - and they are making a big difference to the reading habits of boys. But there are concerns the expansion of electronic devices in schools may undermine the position of traditional paper books. Over the past year, the National Literacy Trust has been conducting research to understand their impact. At 40 schools across the country, 800 children were encouraged to use e-books and share their feelings. The average project ran for four months. But over that period on average boys made 8.4 months of reading...
01 February
Increased literacy among girls in India has lead to a reduction in child marriages. Credit: indians4socialchange

Rates of Child Marriage in India are declining as Female Literacy Increases

The fourth National Family Health Survey has recorded a considerable improvement in women health, age of marriage and financial means over the past decade, signalling increased empowerment of women. The findings of NFHS- 4 (2015-16) show a significant plunge in marriages of women below the age of 18 years with the majority of women opting for marrying late. The results of the survey depict that 40% women in Bihar in the age group of 20-24 years got married before the age of 18 years, as compared to the 60.3% women in the same age group who were married before 18 years of age according...
25 January
#MyGivingPledge Will Make A Difference

#MyGivingPledge 2016

Make a difference in 2016 by pledging your support to a charity, cause or organisation that means something to you.  Whether it's your time, skills or money you're offering - make a promise to give and share it with the world.   window.addEventListener( "message", function (e) { if (e.origin !== '') {return;} document.getElementById('remote-frame').height =; }, false);
22 January
Is 'griffonage' really a term for people that are a fan of Harry Potter?

Do You Know What These Weird Words and Phrases Actually Mean?

These English language words, which are very real, and still in use. You’ll find them in important legal documents, monthly bills, news stories, and more. So get ready to flex your rhetorical muscles, try your best not to Google, and see if you really understand what you’re reading.   <iframe id="quizWidget-148565" width="100%" height="700px" frameborder="0" border="none" src=""></iframe>  
21 January