Unlocking the power of reading

When I was a child, my mum used to go out one evening a week. She would spend a couple of hours at a local school with a man who wanted to learn to read. This was her adult literacy night. I don’t know if I remember being surprised that a grown up couldn’t read but many people are unaware it’s still very much a problem around the globe today. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) gives the figure of 758 million people over the age of 15 who struggle with all things literacy. In England, an estimated 5.2 million adults can’t read or have low literacy levels. With the stigma attached to admitting you can’t read it’s possible these numbers are much higher.

When I was a child, my mum used to go out one evening a week. She would spend a couple of hours at a local school with a man who wanted to learn to read. This was her adult literacy night. I don’t know if I remember being surprised that a grown up couldn’t read but many people are unaware it’s still very much a problem around the globe today. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) gives the figure of 758 million people over the age of 15 who struggle with all things literacy. In England, an estimated 5.2 million adults can’t read or have low literacy levels. With the stigma attached to admitting you can’t read it’s possible these numbers are much higher.

It’s not all bad news, UIS tells us literacy levels have risen steadily over the past 50 years. There is also a real push to unlock the power of reading for those adults who are barred from daily activities we take for granted; checking our emails, Facebook, Twitter,  reading up a fantastic book, choosing what to eat from a menu.

Project Literacy is one of movers and shakers amongst those who feel passionately that everyone should be able to read. It’s a global campaign spearheaded by Pearson, which aims to bring the power of words to the world. Its aim is by 2030, every child born can grow up to be a literate adult. This year, Project Literacy’s Give a Word campaign focuses on breaking the cycle of illiteracy by focusing on unlocking the power of reading for adults. As a Project Literacy partner, Shannon Trust is flying a flag for the campaign.

Shannon Trust Learners are a diverse lot; amongst them are many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and future parents. As they learn to read they improve not just their own life chances but those of the children in their families. 

“For 49 years I couldn’t read. Now I’m reading letters from my children.”

Find out more about Project Literacy and the Give a Word campaign: www.projectliteracy.com

Angela Cairns
CEO