Imagine for a moment that you can’t read, and that the current sentence makes no more sense to you than this: thadshjdf dfsilug fdsliudf kyuiydiusg dsohfd oisdflkjgoiysd sdfluidskhdf dsfgoiuio. Weird, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s the experience of millions of people around the world for whom basic reading and writing are anything but an open book, let alone the kind of literacy you need to read a novel, earn qualifications, learn a trade, or apply for a job.
Unfortunately, literacy levels are intimately connected to how well we do in life. In fact, many people would go so far as to say that a life devoid of literacy is a life not worth living.
“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie
You may be surprised to know that alongside the millions who live in third-world countries without access to the free education that we take for granted, nearly 17% of Britons – that’s one in six people – live with poor literacy. That includes 5.2 million adults who are functionally illiterate, which is equivalent to the population of Turkmenistan, two Jamaicas, half of Portugal, or 5.2 million Wallies.
At Global Lingo, we are privileged to work closely with language every day, and appreciate its subtlety and power. As such, most of us probably regard literacy as a human right: we’ve all had the opportunities and help to learn to read and write to a high level, and our lives are suffused with the joy of reading and writing. It’s difficult to imagine where we would be without it.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway
The idea that anyone else should be denied these twin pleasures – reading and writing, the foundation-stones of happiness and success – strikes us as uniquely unjust. For that reason, it seemed fitting that the London office’s chosen charity for 2014 should be the National Literacy Trust.
The Trust’s activities help to raise literacy in the UK through a number of different projects, from Books Unlocked – rehabilitation of illiterate prisoners by increasing their reading skills – to programmes in schools, research, and political campaigning.
“We read to know that we are not alone.” — C.S. Lewis
We’ll be raising money for the National Literacy Trust throughout 2014. And, to start us off, we took part in the Trust’s 5km ‘Where’s Wally?’ Fun Run in Victoria Park on Sunday, 16th March, raising more than £860 for the charity. The run as a whole has so far raised more than £60,000, and at the time of writing, it is still not too late to donate.
We’ll be continuing our drive for the rest of the year, so please give generously and watch this space!