Urgency of children’s global literacy campaign increases due to pandemic

World Literacy Foundation

Today (April 23), on UNESCO World Book Day, the World Literacy Foundation is calling for emergency support to improve children’s reading standards after shock figures revealed the impact of the pandemic on literacy levels.

Award-winning authors and actors including Stephen Fry and Dame Helen Mirren add their voices to the charity’s call to urgently intervene to mitigate child illiteracy rates internationally. 

With literacy programs spanning across USA, Sub-Saharan Africa, UK, Australia and South America the charity is appealing for donations, via its new campaign ‘Before it’s too late’ to help reach thousands of deprived children with books and literacy support in the coming weeks. 

“We know that due to the pandemic school closures 100 million more children than expected are falling behind the minimum reading levels* and that children from low-income backgrounds are the most impacted due to limited access to books, education resources and owning digital devices” said Founder and CEO of World Literacy Foundation, Andrew Kay.

Andrew Kay said “The support of Governments, corporates, and members of the community is vital to make the necessary impact to reduce the growing literacy gap. Making sure children can read and write properly and have the skills they need to prosper is our central focus.”

Best-selling author and actor, Stephen Fry added his support to the campaign saying: “Every child, no matter their circumstances, deserves access to books and literacy support. Please support the World Literacy Foundation with a gift today.”

Oscar and BAFTA winning actor Dame Helen Mirren added her voice to the literacy campaign and said: “I am proud to support the World Literacy Foundation’s ‘Before it’s too late’ campaign. It highlights the devastating crisis of the millions of children living in poverty at risk of illiteracy. If you can, please consider giving a gift to this appeal.” 

Globally, at least 773 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills according to UNESCO literacy figures*.

Caroline Burkie, Global COO of the World Literacy Foundation said: “Illiteracy amongst children has a detrimental impact on a child’s health and mental well-being and is a proven obstacle to further education and employment opportunities. Providing innovative literacy support at a community level, to breakdown these causes of poverty for children is something we can all advocate. A $5 donation helps us reach a child living in bleak circumstances with their first book and literacy activity pack. By gifting your love and appreciation of reading today, you can change a child’s life.”

About the World Literacy Foundation

The World Literacy Foundation (WLF) is an international charity working with programs in the UK, USA, Africa, South America and Australia to eradicate illiteracy by 2040. The World Literacy Foundation supports children and young people living in the most deprived parts of the World by providing free books and literacy support.  

The World Literacy Foundation is a global non-profit organization working to ensure that every young individual regardless of geographic location has the opportunity to acquire literacy skills to reach their full potential, succeed at school and beyond.

The WLF provide free access to quality education materials and innovative solutions that target wide-scale illiteracy. Since 2013, we are providing our support services in remote communities and disadvantaged areas in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, South America, and Africa.

In 2012 WLF began the World Literacy Summit at Oxford University, bringing together the global literacy community to build greater collaboration and partnerships. Due to its success, the summit was held again in 2014, 2018 and in 2020 we moved to a Covid-19 safe online conference.

The WLF are a global voice to spread and promote the importance of literacy, we empower people to advocate in their local community for this cause.

In 2020 we distributed 91,037 books, children and adults attended our literacy support services 116,740 times and we impacted 9.5 million people through mainstream media, advocacy events, and social media with our global message to help eradicate illiteracy by 2040.

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