On Literacy & Economic Development

Illiteracy and poverty go hand in hand. There are almost 800 million adults and children alive today who can’t read, and most of them live in the developing world. Closer to home, only 15% of indigenous children at year 7 level in remote communities can read at an acceptable standard.

With Indigenous Literacy Day being yesterday, and today being International Literacy Day, we cast our minds back to an inspiring appearance by John Wood, who was a guest at the Wheeler Centre earlier this year.

A hiking trip in the Himalayas in the 1990s exposed Wood to the high levels of illiteracy among Nepalese children. A Nepalese teacher explained the paradox in these terms: Nepal is a country that is too poor to pay for universal education, and yet as long as children remain uneducated Nepal will remain a poor country.

At the time, John Wood was Microsoft’s Australian marketing manager. He left the boardroom to found Room to Read with the motto, ‘World change starts with educated children.’ “Education,” Wood told the Wheeler Centre audience, “is the one issue that affects every other issue.”

Watch the video.

Tomorrow night at the Wheeler Centre, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is hosting the Art for Country auction to raise money for literacy resources for the communities that have provided the artworks to be auctioned.

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