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September is Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month

Literacy Month 2016 V2September is Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month

By Manera Saloom Searcy

Dear Rotarians,

As District 6880 Literacy Chair, I want to make you aware that September is Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month, one of our 6 Areas of Focus.

International Literacy Day is a holiday which is celebrated annually on September 8th. The purpose of this day is to raise the world’s awareness of literacy issues that are faced by people all over the world and to endorse campaigns that help increase literacy for all people. It was originally established by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization – in 1965.

Following are excerpts from a publication titled: “Rotary Promotes Literacy”. The link for the full document is You will find several project suggestions for your club in that publication.


  • Although the number of adult illiterates has declined according to UNESCO statistics, there are still more than 900 million people who cannot read or write in any language, and two-thirds of them are women.
  • 98% of the world’s illiterate live in developing countries. Three-quarters of the world’s illiterate live in ten countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Sudan.
  • Although net enrollment at the primary-school level has increased in developing countries by nearly two-thirds during the past 30 years, from 48% in 1960 to 77% in 1991, about 130 million children at the primary level and more than 275 million at the secondary level are not in school.
  • About 130 million eligible children do not go to school and that number may increase by more than 10% by the end of the century. Of those who do enroll, at least one-third do not finish primary school for a variety of socioeconomic reasons.
  • In industrialized countries, more than a third of adults have less than an upper-secondary education.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, 50% or less of the students entering first grade will ever reach fifth grade.
  • Almost four million adults in the USA cannot read, sign their names, or perform simple addition or subtraction. Another 30 million workers can read and write only minimally, and yet an additional 40 million are still not at a level sufficient for the demands of our rapidly evolving technology.

It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population is functionally illiterate, but the problem cannot be blamed solely on a lack of educational opportunities. Educators agree that a host of factors beginning with early child development contribute to the mastery of basic literacy skills. My local librarian stressed that there is also – in this world that we live in – a definite need for technological literacy, especially with the elderly. Now is the time for Rotary to become a contributing factor as well. Get involved in your community today!

  • Adopt-a-School and speak with the principal and/or librarian about their current literacy programs, find out what is on their Wish List, and actively involve your membership
  • Do the same with local librarians and other community organizations
  • Continue our Dictionary Project for 3rd-graders. This link will give you some good options and ways to order:
  • Check out this website featuring a wonderful book commissioned by the Fairborn Rotary Club that is entertaining and is based on the 4-Way Test:

    If you have questions or need additional resources, contact me, Manera S. Searcy, District 6880 Literacy Chair at email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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