Dear Rotarians of District 7770,
September is Basic Education and Literacy Month. Some of us take our literacy for granted. In fact reading and writing are as natural as breathing for most of us. Consider for a moment the pains and obstacles that plague our community, our nation and our world as a result of illiteracy. Nearly 800 million adults worldwide lack the literacy skills needed to complete a job application, understand a child’s report card, or read a prescription. In the USA, two-thirds of the students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. One in four children grow up without learning to read. 85% of those who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. Low literacy in the USA costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. A recent study by Pfizer puts the cost much higher.
One of the six areas of focus for Rotary is basic education and literacy. The goal of Rotary International is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. Literacy gives people tools with which to improve their livelihoods, participate in community decision-making, gain access to information about health care, and much more. Rotarians in District 7770 volunteer with adult literacy programs, serve as mentors to students of all ages, partner with schools and churches to help at-risk elementary school students, promote literacy projects in our communities, distribute dictionaries, and build free-standing libraries. What innovative project can your club create this year to help improve literacy in your community?
What kind of gift will you be to the world this year? Will you give the gift of helping someone learn to read? The gift of literacy could change a person’s life forever. It can have a profoundly empowering effect personally, socially and politically – whether it’s a person on the other side of the world or right in our own hometown. Our district will collect books at the district 7770 conference March 18-20 as a means of helping local schools. Come to the conference and bring books to donate.