Want to change a nation? Think literacy.

"There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read:  Literacy is power ." - Matt Taibbi
In July 2014, I (Wayne) visited a school in a township near East London, South Africa. It was a depressing visit: little green space, basic classroom furniture and bare-bone resource materials. 

Worst of all, there was no school library. I asked a Grade 7 student if teachers had access to books for their classrooms. “Yes, there is a box of books for each grade in the office.” The office? What!  No school library, no books in the classroom, a box of books in the office!  How accessible is a box of books in an office? 

I was shocked.

I believe reading is fundamental. Kids need  access to books . The written word changes people. It changes nations. We read, we discover, we learn, we grow. Individuals and groups of people move forward.
"The more that [we] read, the more things [we] will know. The more that [we] learn, the more places [we'll] go.” - Dr. Seuss.
Dear South Africa,

The more we read as a nation, the more places we will go as a nation. We live in an extremely global economy. We are not only competing for jobs with other South Africans, we are competing for jobs with people across the African continent and around the world*.

Let’s do something about literacy in our country.  Two things we could do this week:  
1.) Pick up a book ourselves. Read, reflect, talk about the book with a friend.
2.) Buy a book for a child, or take him or her to a public library. 

Literacy is power,

* How are South Africans competing for jobs on an international scale? An overseas company chooses to inject 1 billion dollars into the South African economy by building a production facility in South Africa instead of Kenya, Ethiopia or Nigeria. With the creation of this new facility, extra jobs are created for South Africans. People are needed for the construction of the facility, people are needed for the management, operation and maintenance of the South African operation. 3,000 extra jobs are created for South Africans instead of 3,000 extra jobs going to a different African country.

Sadly, the opposite often happens. . . A company sets up a production facility in Ethiopia instead of setting it up in the company's second-runner up: South Africa. With the 3,000 jobs, the unemployment rate goes down in Ethiopia. However, the unemployment rate in South Africa edges upwards or remains at its incredibly high rate of 27.6%**.

Let's become a nation that is a global leader. Where to start? Teaching pre-reading skills to three and four year olds. Teaching kindergarten children how to read and then giving these children the tools and resources to live a lifelong literate life.

In South Africa, we need more READERS who will tap into the POWER of literacy!

Greater literacy = greater learning = greater opportunities. 

Image source: sabookcouncil.co.za

** tradingeconomics.com