How We Are Building Literacy Worldwide
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on September 08, 2021 in categoryStories from the FieldcategoryNewscategoryAdvocacy

In 1966, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared September 8 as International Literacy Day. The day serves to “remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.” 

The fact is, despite literacy rates steadily increasing over the past 50 years, UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates there are still 773 million illiterate adults worldwide, most of whom are women.  

In partnership with 21 programs in 35 countries, we are devoted to doing our part. We are proud of our partnerships and the projects we help make reality so that people in every corner of the world can lead more fulfilled lives through literacySome of the ways we have continued to support literacy initiatives worldwide this past year include: 

  • Women’s literacy programMexico (with funding from Lancôme Mexico) 
    ProLiteracy partner: Proyectos Laubach de Alfabetización en México A.C. (PLAMAC) 
    As part of the Write Her Future global campaign, Lancôme Mexico is continuing to partner with ProLiteracy and our local partner in Mexico to expand a literacy program for rural women. The program, in its second year, will be implemented near Irapuato in the State of Guanajuato.  
  • Women’s economic empowerment and literacy programNiger 
    ProLiteracy partner: Micro Credit in Africa (MICA) 
    This project teaches financial literacy to empower women in learning and economic self-reliance. MICA works to promote education specifically for tribal women and out-of-school girls in urban and rural communities around the city of Niamey, Niger.  
  • Women’s literacy and empowerment programKerala, India 
    ProLiteracy partner: Laubach Literacy Education Trust (LLET)  
    LLET was established in 1958 and is ProLiteracy’s longest international partner. This partnership focuses on increasing women’s literacy skills and vocational skills in rural communities.  
  • Gender empowerment and human rights initiative: Rwanda 
    ProLiteracy partner: SEVOTA  
    In Rwanda, SEVOTA uses literacy as a tool to impact the social wellbeing of women and teenage mothers who are members of community solidarity groups. Together, SEVOTA and ProLiteracy are growing our longstanding partnership with the Women: Better Life First project, and we plan to disseminate the Rwandan Women’s Health Handbook to 350 young women and their households. 
  • Pokot tribal literacy programKenya 
    ProLiteracy partner: Kenya Adult Learners’ Association (KALA)  
    In Kenya, the Pokot live in remote border villages between Kenya and Uganda, and they have limited access to educationKALA is working to reach these tribal communities to increase literacy with a focus on education, health, and income generation. 
  • Indigenous bilingual literacy program: Cambodia 
    ProLiteracy partner: Non-Timber Forest Products Organization (NTFP) 
    In Cambodia Kavet Bilingual Literacy program increases literacy skills for adult learners and youth in rural communities in Cambodia. By gaining literacy skills in their mother language, Indigenous people can secure rights to their land and natural resources.  
  • Adult literacy and agriculture program: Haiti 
    ProLiteracy partner: AyitiKonseVet (AKV) 
    A program for rural Haitian farmers in the north and northwest regions of Haiti includes literacy classes for farmers and their families. The focus is on environmental sustainability through better farming techniques and fundamental reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. 
  • Women’s health education program: Egypt 
    ProLiteracy partner: Anba Moussa Al-Aswad (ANBA) 
    ANBA leads a women’s health education program in Upper Egyptwhere many rural Egyptians relocate to escape povertyBy teaching literacy in the context of women’s health, ANBA  addresses issues specific to women such as urinary tract infections, intestinal worms, female genital mutilation, and family planning. This program is unique because it serves learners of various religions and cultures who typically don’t socialize or live in the same communities. ANBA is also the first program to use Laubach Way to Reading in Arabic to provide basic literacy instruction. 

Find out more about our work internationally at: 

Help us continue spreading literacy throughout the world:  


Basic Skills for Community-Oriented Development: A Resource Book for Educators and Other Partners was written by Paul Jurmo, Ed.D., to assist those who are providing or wish to provide basic skills education to adults and out-of-school youth in developing countries. 


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