On the occasion of the upcoming UNESCO World Literacy Day on September 8, UNESCO-Goodwill Ambassador Dr. h.c. Ute-Henriette Ohoven challenges organisations, initiatives and governments to step up their efforts to improve global literacy.
“It is unimaginable and shameful that more than 750 million people can neither read nor write. Access to education is a prerequisite for participation in social processes and for defending one´s rights,” stresses Ute-Henriette Ohoven.
UNESCO´s Global Education Monitoring Report (2015) shows that two out of three illiterates are women. Due to population growth, the absolute number of illiterates even increased in many regions of the world. It is noteworthy that 70% of all adult illiterates live in only ten countries. This alarming statistic illustrates how unevenly access to education is distributed today. The YOU Foundation supports the Education-Agenda 2030 and promotes inclusive and fair high-quality education, as well as life-long learning for all.
“Access to education should not be the privilege of selected circles while all others are excluded. Education is the key to reduce poverty and the best form of peace building,” adds Ute-Henriette Ohoven. The founder of the YOU Foundation fights for equal educational opportunities in exemplary projects.
In Bangladesh, for example, extreme poverty forces many parents to send their children to work rather than have them attend school. According to official estimates, in the capitol of Bangladesh an additional 650000 children live in the streets. To provide these children with a perspective for their life´s the YOU Foundation supports “school bus of hope”. Every day, this bus can be found in the same spot, and qualified teachers educate the children. They receive didactical materials and as a matter of course receive a meal. The long-term objective is to provide many additional such school buses and to reach more children.
In India, as well, poverty and illiteracy omnipresent. While it is true that may children visit a school, especially primary education is facing a serious problem. Prior to the age of 6, the majority of children in rural regions do hardly ever come across anyone who can read or write or who can give them pedagogical games to foster their development. Urban centers aside, there is a shortage of nursery schools and institutions that lay the foundation for later education. Together with its sponsor, the ZF Friedrichshafen AG, the YOU Foundation is establishing ten nursery schools that children from poor families can attend. In these centers, for two years children receive a pre-pedagogical education, are encourage and prepared for school. In short, children receive a chance to escape the vicious circle that poverty has subjected them to.
“We are very proud that our projects support the objectives of the Education Agenda 2019 and that our focus emphasizes equal opportunity. We want to help reduce inequalities and handicaps in an effort to enable a better life for disadvantaged girls and women,” says Ute-Henriette Ohoven.