Today is International Day of Education

A young community member joining in the celebrations at a Literacy for Life Foundation graduation ceremony. Photo: Leanne Hardy Photo.

Today, January 24, is International Day of Education.

This year’s theme, “learning for lasting peace” recognises the transformative potential of education and lifelong learning for fostering and enabling a commitment to peace and solidarity.

As an Aboriginal-run and community-controlled organisation, Literacy for Life Foundation promotes and supports local Aboriginal community members who are enabling adult literacy and lifelong learning across NSW, QLD and the NT.

UNESCO’s The Evolution and Impact of Literacy Campaigns and Programmes report describes the value of mass literacy Campaigns, like ours, as going beyond delivering basic reading and writing skills, using lifelong learning to promote social change and mobilise communities towards self-determination and agency for peaceful futures.

Large-scale literacy Campaigns:
• Make literacy more visible and help place literacy high on national agendas to create a social environment that encourages motivation, participation and retention among learners.
• Mobilise and strengthen partnerships.
• Work best with sustainable and sufficient funding, support and accountability from government.
• Help to energise the formal education sector.

Our Campaign uses a First Nations adaptation of the ‘Yes, I Can!’ model, which has helped more than 10 million people read and write across thirty countries.

In Australia we have worked across 14 communities since 2012, with a completion rate 30 times higher than other adult literacy programs, meaning more people equipped with tools for lifelong learning and action.

Importantly, mass literacy Campaigns can be transformative in shaping peace. Literacy for Life evaluators have found the Campaign brings people together and heals conflict. At one Campaign site, the local Coordinator said the classes ‘broke a lot of barriers, with people sitting side by side that don’t usually talk outside of class’.

Beyond this, Literacy for Life is part of strengthening the community-controlled sector and promoting self-determination and agency in Aboriginal communities. This means prioritising locally-led and evidenced-backed literacy and digital skills as a tool for communities to shape peaceful and powerful shared futures.

You can read more about the importance of adult literacy in this blog on the United Nations website, posted for International Literacy Day. It includes the following important findings and observations,  drawn from global evidence:

  • A child whose mother can read is 50 per cent more likely to live past the age of five, 50 per cent more likely to be immunised, and twice as likely to attend school.
  • If adults (from 15 years of age and above) had just two more years of schooling, nearly 60 million people would be lifted out of poverty.
  • A literate woman is more likely to benefit from health campaigns, be informed of modern health methods, and to have more tools to overcome detrimental gender norms.
  • Literacy programmes that respect linguistic diversity and the mother tongue of the participants help solidify communal identities and collective histories.

To support the work of Literacy for Life Foundation this International Day of Education please consider making a monthly or one-off donation. Your gift can change lives.