Research has shown that education decreases violent crimes and improves the overall economic health of communities, so we know of no other approach to alleviate poverty that has an impact this broad and long-lasting. Our proposed holistic education program initiative seeks to impact systemic change in educational standards and community sustainability development and starts with literacy advancement.
When it comes to learning to read, children in Africa face tremendous challenges. Books are rare, illiteracy is common among adults, and few children read in the home. Many have never even put their hands on a book by the time they start school. In addition, with 21 officially recognized African languages, many of the children begin school unable to speak English. Because of this, children in Africa begin their education without the fundamental pre-literacy skills we take for granted in the developed world. Once children begin school, their challenges are compounded by an under- funded educational system and classrooms that are nearly empty of books. These hurdles are made even higher by the fact that teachers in many African countries only need a high school diploma to teach, often read at the 7th grade level, and have yet to develop the habit of reading themselves.
We strongly believe that for children in the underdeveloped world, learning to read is a critical first step on the path out of poverty. In these countries, children who are able to read and think critically have far greater capacity to find living-wage jobs as adults. They are more likely to continue with school and are better equipped to start businesses of their own. With our proposed program, countless children will be equipped with resources and literacy skills needed to encourage a love and habit for reading. Teachers and librarians will be trained by Lift a Village to significantly increase their effectiveness and leverage the impact of tens of thousands of children’s books we plan to distribute each year.