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International Literacy Day 2008: "Literacy is the best remedy"

Hayley Diverio and Alexis Grieco are creating literacy/health backbacks for kindergarten students living in the largest slum in East Africa. More...
Hayley and Alexis collecting backpack supplies

The vital relationship between literacy and health is the focus of this year’s International Literacy Day to be celebrated around the world on 8 September.

International Literacy Day BannerGLP joins millions around the world celebrating International Literacy Day today with the theme "Literacy is the best remedy," to put strong emphasis on Literacy and Epidemics with a focus on communicable diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, some of the world's most important public health concerns.

Growing up in a plastic bag shack, literacy IS the best remedy
Kibera plastic bag shack

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has noted that: “Literacy strengthens the capabilities of people to take advantage of healthcare and educational opportunities – for example, by seeking medical help for themselves and a sick child, by adopting preventive health measures such as immunisation, and by acquiring greater knowledge of family planning methods.[…]. Educated parents, especially mothers – whether through formal schooling or adult programmes – are more likely to send their children to school and have a better understanding of their healthcare needs.”

Mrs. Grace Okinyo and Mr. Peter Okinyo (sitting towards the right) converted their property into the Nazarene school--a safe haven for dozens of children in Kibera--Kenya's largest slum
Mrs. Grace Okinyo and Mr. Peter Okinyo

"Literacy is a powerful yet too often overlooked remedy to health threats, with the potential to promote better nutrition, disease prevention and treatment," Matsuura noted.

Founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Literacy Day is observed annually since 1965 on September 8 and focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. More than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education. On ILD, individuals, organizations, and countries throughout the world renew efforts to promote literacy and demonstrate their commitment to providing education for all.

With the Nazarene School, local children
now have a healthy, safe refuge
Nazarene School in Kibera, Kenya

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. The celebration's theme for 2007 and 2008 is "Literacy and Health". This is also the thematic emphasis of the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade.

The Global Literacy Project's "Classroom Connections" Initiative

Kicking off for International Literacy Day GLP will connect classrooms in the USA with classrooms in South Africa. These classrooms will work on projects such as creating a shared novel or book or poetry. The final products will be published and provided to participants as an incentive to continue reading and writing.

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