Tag archives: Project Literacy

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Entrepreneurs Tackling Illiteracy – Project Literacy Lab

project literacyThis is the august Royal Institution, venue for last week’s exciting Project Literacy Lab event, which I felt very privileged to attend.

Project Literacy is an international partnership between Unreasonable Group and Pearson which aims to eliminate global illiteracy by 2030, by helping entrepreneurs deliver successful rapid growth ventures. Given that over 758 million people, 10% of the world’s population, lack basic literacy, it’s an exceptionally ambitious target. A year on from its inception, Project Literacy already touches the lives of over 10 million people across 30 countries. The entrepreneurs’ brief TED-style presentations about their ventures were inspiring, with lots of moving stories. One that has stayed with me was of a grandfather engaged in an anti-recidivism project determined to learn to read so he could read to his granddaughter. Some of the initiatives develop children’s and/or adults’ literacy skills directly, in several cases through brilliant apps and other accessible technology. Mobile phones have a reach that was previously unimaginable. Other projects do not tackle illiteracy head on, but nevertheless have a major impact. By making solar lighting available in homes with no access to the electric grid, Angaza enables children to study after sunset. The affordable, reusable sanitary pads produced by AFRIpads mean girls no longer skip school or drop out due to lack of menstrual products.

Literacy is vital, for individuals and for societies. Nisha Ligon of Ubongo, a great educational entertainment programme, said ‘once children learn to read, they can read to learn’. Entrepreneur and Project Literacy co-founder Daniel Epstein spoke of the link between literacy and life expectancy. Lily Cole, Project Literacy’s amabassador, told us the rate of violent crime is double among illiterate people, and that literacy is key to combating radicalisation and AIDS. Infant mortality goes down 30% if mothers are literate.

An amazing afternoon.