It was like any other days, except that it was raining this morning. I hated rainy mornings, especially when I had to wake up 6am to get ready for school. I was such an ‘ungrateful’ boy; I didn’t know it was a great blessing to be worried free and to be able to concentrate on my main responsibility – to do well in school.
Almost every new school year I had new bag, new set of stationery and textbooks. Not to mention new school uniforms and shoe. I didn’t remember I had to wear a pair of shoe with holes in them for long.
In the school, the classroom was well sheltered with cement walls. It was well ventilated with windows and ceiling fans. The classroom was also properly lit with lighting. To further entice us with school, each of us had our own desk and chair. When we needed to sit on the cement flooring, we had proper mats to sit on. We even had regularly dental checked up to make sure we brushed our teeth.
What else did we have to worry about? Practically nothing, except probably with the examinations.
And yet, going through school seemed to be just a chore of growing up for me. I was pretty much going through the motion. Yes, still remember I mentioned I was an ‘ungrateful’ boy; I had very much taken everything for granted.
I had thought that literacy was a natural part of children my age. I didn’t know that being able to read and write were special privileges to many but not all. I didn’t know that in worlds away from mine, education was, and still is, a luxury to many … probably to many of them, it didn’t even cross their minds since they are struggling to survive.
According to UNESCO, “… one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women while 75 million children are out of school.”
Back in 2003-2005, while I was working oversea, I remembered seeing children roaming in the street; some of them were peddling bracelets made from small white flowers, and some were running between cars, that stopped in the traffic, to ask for money.
One of my friends mentioned once that he was very tempted to unwind the window to pass the children some money but he stopped himself. He asked himself, “will I be doing more harms to these children than good if I pass them some money? If I do, they may have the wrong perception that money comes easily through begging.”
I kind of agree with him. If we give a person a fish, we feed the person for a day. However, if we could teach the person how to fish, we could ‘feed’ the person for life.
Literacy may not be the immediate solution to solve a person’s livelihood. Literacy will however, provide a person with the basic of learning and from there onwards, hopefully it will enable the person to further learning on his/her own. And hopefully with empowerment from literacy, the person’s life will improve eventually.
According to UNESCO on the important of literacy, “Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.”
I believe that education is one of the most important facets of life. I have read in some blogs that we can make donation to organisations that have on-going literacy projects, or to volunteer in your communities to teaching adults and children how to read and write and we can also donate books to the library or organisations that bring these books to countries that need them.
September 8 will be the International Literacy Day, which aims to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. With education, I hope that one day those children running in the street will have better lives.
What do you think we can do about building a better world through education?
BetterWorldBooks.com – is one online bookstore that collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. All books are available with free shipping to any location within the United States (or $3.97 worldwide). And in case you’re concerned about your eco-footprint, every order is shipped carbon neutral with offsets from Carbonfund.org.
Photo credit: stokpic
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