So… how did you celebrate International Literacy Day this year? (Nothing? Me either…)
Didn’t even know there is such a day? Don’t feel bad! You’re not alone.
I think it is awesome that the United Nations has set aside September 8 as a day to recognize the importance of literacy – and to highlight all the people across the globe who still don’t have this basic, life-changing skill. After all, without the ability to read your life gets difficult pretty quickly… You can’t read a letter from a friend, you can’t help your kids with their homework. Heck, you can’t even read the signs as you’re driving to know if you’re going in the right direction!
And you and I know the WORST part of being illiterate would be not being able to read God’s Word for ourselves. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
International Literacy Day may be over, but at Mission India we’re thinking about it 365 days a year!
In fact, there’s hardly a day in India where our literacy program isn’t in session… and because each class meets for an entire year, it literally is Literacy Day every day. 😀
When the ladies and men in these classes first start attending the nightly sessions, many of them can’t even write their own names. In India it is common to give your “thumb impression” in place of a signature when you are illiterate. So as their skills progress, being able to sign their own name is a really big deal for these students:
By the time their year of classes is up (and I’m not kidding about literacy impacting EVERY day – each class meets 2 hours a night, five nights a week, for 52 weeks) literacy graduates have achieved the equivalent of a fifth grade education. Doesn’t sound like much? Well, in India reaching that threshold opens lots of doors to jobs that our students never dreamed of before. Illiteracy traps many people in a cycle of back-breaking physical labor. Literacy gives them new freedom.
Our literacy classes aren’t just about reading and writing, either. The word literacy means having knowledge in a specific area … and we want these students to be literate in key areas like finances, health and hygiene, and citizenship. The lessons weave all this information into their learning process… and by the time graduation rolls around our students are more likely to be borrowing less, saving more, eating more nutritious meals, and taking steps to prevent disease.
Literacy students pack a lot of learning into those 365 days! But their education doesn’t just stop at the practical level. Remember the worst part about being illiterate? Not being able to read God’s Word?
The literacy curriculum also slowly introduces students to Jesus… and an amazing 40% of graduates receive Jesus as Savior! They can read the Bible for themselves… discover the Good News… and more often than not they share that Good News with their family and friends! I think Kajani puts it best:
“God’s Word has been my encouragement. If I couldn’t read, I couldn’t be encouraged.”
I realize that you aren’t going to have literacy on YOUR mind every day… that’s okay! But if you want to use your own literacy skills to keep India at the top of your prayer list, I encourage you to sign up for our daily prayer email. You’ll get one short, sweet prayer of the day (about our literacy classes and other ministry programs)… and a great reminder to be grateful that you are blessed to be able to read!