International Literacy Day is an annual reminder that education—and literacy in particular—is core to achieving a more just, inclusive, and sustainable world. As a core component of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 to achieve quality education by 2030, literacy is also necessary to make progress in the other 16 developmental goals established in 2015.
Yet, UNESCO’s most recent estimates show there are still 773 million young people and adults worldwide who cannot read or write.
The international community has work to do, and so, today, we are underscoring our commitment to building a more literate and sustainable world through literacy. In addition to our ongoing support of over 30 partner programs worldwide, we will continue to find new avenues to increase literacy, which is why we are so excited about a new partnership in the MENA Region.
In partnership with the Yum! Foundation and KFC, we will help spread literacy and spur lifelong learning throughout Egypt. In what’s being called the KFC Feeding Minds Youth Literacy Program, our longtime partner program in Egypt, Anba Moussa Al-Aswad Association (ANBA), will be supported over the course of three years, to strengthen the core literacy skills of 600 at-risk youth ages 12–20.
The project will be focused on the area of Cairo called Ezbet Khairallah, where over 1 million people live mostly in poverty and the dropout rate is 30%, two thirds of which are girls/women. Youth in this neighborhood face problems like low literacy, unemployment, and a lack of health facilities.
With the support of the Yum! Foundation, ANBA and ProLiteracy will use literacy education to empower learners in Ezbet Khairallah with the tools needed to face challenges in their lives and create change. The project will also raise awareness about the importance of education to sustain that progress into the future.
The targeted age group for the Feeding Minds program represents the future and the next generation of adults who will be entering the workforce and raising children of their own. If we can teach this group to read and write, they will be more likely to stay in school and eliminate the limitations and barriers that are currently perpetuating the cycle of poverty and hardships in the area.
As ProLiteracy co-founder Dr. Frank C. Laubach said, “the ability to read is the key to the door of the world, and through them, to a world of understanding, instead of fear, hate, and superstition.”
Through the course of this initiative, ANBA will train teachers on using Dr. Frank’s proven methodology Laubach Way to Reading, which has been translated into Arabic. As the project progresses and participants make literacy gains, we will develop more advanced materials and recruit community ambassadors that will promote the program and the importance of literacy in addition to KFC’s support in raising awareness.
On International Literacy Day, we couldn’t be more proud of this new project and that such a well-known brand as the Yum! Foundation believes in our ability to create a better, more equitable world through literacy.
Literacy enlightens individuals with new ideas and enables them to think critically, advocate for themselves, and achieve unlimited opportunity.
Happy International Literacy Day!