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International Literacy Day Celebration 2022

Who declared International Literacy Day and why?

International Literacy Day, sometimes called World Literacy Day, is an international observance and is celebrated every year on 8 September. International Literacy Day was established during the World Conference of Ministers of Education in Iran’s capital Tehran in 1965. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed this day as International Literacy Day in 1966. The intention was to remind people all over the world that the ability to read and write is a human right and a matter of dignity. The first International Literacy Day was celebrated in 1967.

How did we celebrate?

Sun Books team organized a virtual event connecting pupils, parents and teachers from Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. We shared a reading session and had the chance to hear from the beneficiaries.

International Literacy Day 2022 - Virtual Event

During the event we were accompanied by more than 500 children who actively participate in the program. We had a reading space for reading aloud from each country. Also, we were able to hear about the experience of some teachers and we understood the positive impact of Sun Books in each classroom.

If you missed the event, you can watch the recording here:  Recording International Literacy Day Virtual Event

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International Literacy Day

Who declared International Literacy Day and why?

International Literacy Day, sometimes called World Literacy Day, is an international observance and is celebrated every year on 8 September. International Literacy Day was established during the World Conference of Ministers of Education in Iran’s capital Tehran in 1965. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed this day as International Literacy Day in 1966. The intention was to remind people all over the world that the ability to read and write is a human right and a matter of dignity. The first International Literacy Day was celebrated in 1967.

What is the importance of literacy?

Although literacy skills are seen as a human right, there are still millions of illiterate people or persons with low literacy skills worldwide. Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates. Being literate is a foundational skill essential to acquiring advanced skills. These, in turn, relate to higher wages and more employment across labour markets.

Lacking basic reading and writing skills is an immense disadvantage. Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, but it generates prospects for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves, their families, and their communities.

What is the aim of celebrating International Literacy Day?

The day is celebrated to advance literacy that enables human beings to create a more cultured, literate, and sustainable society. Even in modern society, there is the need to raise awareness about illiteracy, and as such the need for basic education and literacy skills is promoted. International Literacy Day aims to remind local communities – where literacy begins – one person at a time, that literacy is an essential factor in the building of a nation. It helps people to think independently and empowers them. Celebrating International Literacy Day aims to highlight the necessary requirements to help build more literate societies around the world.

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Practical activities in celebration of International Literacy Day include the donation of books to local classrooms, gifting a book to someone, or starting a community lending library. The Reading Day team from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Literacy Association of South Africa (Litasa), the Gauteng Department of Education, and the World Literacy Foundation did all this and initiated reading days at schools as well. The vision is to help grow a love of reading and to enhance the literacy skills of learners by engaging in fun educational literacy activities. Students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology read stories with each class and afterwards did educational activities with the learners based on the stories read. The team donated books to the two schools that were visited. The donated books were sponsored by Book Dash, the National Reading Coalition, and the Faculty of Humanities at UP as part of their literacy drive Reading Matters. The transport to the schools was sponsored by Litasa, the World Literacy Foundation, and Sun Books. The team is excited to report that the two schools decided to dedicate each Friday to reading by hosting a weekly mini-reading day.

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The theme for International Literacy Day this year was Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. The Reading Day team optimised the opportunity to literally transform literacy learning spaces by donating books for the reading rooms of the two schools. The team also focused on the fact that literacy learning can take place anywhere where a child and words are together. As such, some classes sat outside while listening to the stories read and others sat in smaller groups away from their desks. All activities focused on literacy being fun and making learners aware that reading is not or should not be limited to the classroom and academic tasks.

Focusing on the theme of transforming literacy learning spaces, the slogan Dare to Dream in the reading room of Mmabana Primary School caught my eye.

International Literacy Day Celebration
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I would like to believe that our team, with the support of our sponsors, is supporting the learners of all the schools we visit to dream about the magic to be found between the pages of a book, literacy success, academic progress, and a prosperous life.

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Written by Dr Mia le Roux

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Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Literacy is an essential part of the right to education and the foundation of lifelong learning, as well as a driver of sustainable development. Empowers people, improves livelihoods, enables greater participation in society and the labor market, benefits the health and nutrition of children and families, and reduces poverty.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines a literate person as someone who can read and write a short, simple statement about their life. In recognizing its impact on poverty, health, active citizenship and empowerment, the development community recognizes that “Illiteracy is a condition that denies people opportunity.”

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The global distribution of literacy is uneven and follows the pattern of rich and developed countries with a higher rate -although the countries that lead the ranking are Ukraine and Uzbekistan, with a rate of 100% in both according to the latest data, from September 2021, while those with lower rates are the so-called developing countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How is Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa?

• More than 1 in 3 adults cannot read.

• 182 million adults are unable to read and write.

• 48 million youth (ages 15-24) are illiterate.

• 22% of primary aged children are not in school.

• That makes 30 million primary aged children who are not in school.

Poor infrastructure and lack of resources exacerbates extreme poverty, making it impossible for children to break the cycle of deprivation and realize their true potential. A community’s literacy rate correlates directly to its level of resilience. Therefore, it is essential to boost literacy in rural communities if we want to have a sustainable impact on addressing poverty and building resilience. Africa needs to increase its reading materials and pedagogical tools to create better lives for its people.

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What are we doing to improve Literacy Levels in Sub-Saharan Africa ?

Sun Books is a World Literacy Foundation program specifically designed to support children, families and communities in rural and off-grid locations across Sub-Saharan Africa.
We provide free access to quality education materials and innovative solutions that target wide-scale illiteracy and numeracy. In 2019, we reached more than 350,000 children and young people with our services, across 80 countries in 5 continents.
“Sun Book” is a solar powered tablet with pre-loaded interactive educational content, tailored to cultural and community education needs, in both mother tongue and English.
Literacy resources up to 600 e-books and stories, educational games, learning applications, videos and audio books.
Our main aim is to provide children, classrooms and teachers greater access to quality technology educational resources without the need of electricity or the Internet. Our main project objective is to improve literacy and numeracy and numeracy rates. A secondary objective is to train teachers in child-centered, culturally relevant pedagogy to boost capacity in the longer term for improved literacy and numeracy attainment in these schools and their communities.

How can you help?

You can become part of the change in different ways, all kind of support is welcome. Click here and get to know how to help us.

Volunteer with us:

We are looking for people who have a love for literacy, children and a huge desire to make an impact. We have open positions for content creators, marketing analysts, graphic designers, teachers, researchers and more. Wanna be part of our team? Register here

Make a donation today and change a life forever!

You can choose to make a recurring donation, a single contribution, or a tribute gift to help end illiteracy.

Become an ambassador

We’re looking for ambassadors who, like us, believe that education is freedom and we are passionate about creating a world where every single child has access to high quality learning resources.

Literacy Can Improve Life

Literacy Can Improve Your Quality Of Life

Vice Chair Sabree Education Services Gambia

Literacy is the ability to read and write in one’s native tongue. However, many people are not able to read and write in their native language. Reading and writing is critical for living in the 21st century and beyond. Which is why we must tackle Illiteracy, a huge problem in the Black community including people of African descent around the world.

In a modern context, we must recognize that literacy, reading and writing, is one of the many ways we can liberate ourselves as Africans and become self-determining people. When we write our own stories we’ll tell the truth about our histories, and our children will be able to read about the greatness of our ancestors – told from our perspective. When people are able to read and write it helps them to reason, think critically and problem solve among other things. When our people are able to read and write they can develop a love of self and not spend millions on bleaching creams, instead investing their money in our continent for its development, for its future. When will policy makers on our continent start looking towards the future and investing in human capital when it comes to literacy?

Literacy Can Improve Life1200x300Illiteracy is defined as not knowing how to read or write beyond a basic level, understanding directions, or having the capacity to complete tasks in a timely manner.

A person can either be purely or functionally illiterate. Purely illiterate individuals cannot read or write in any capacity for all practical purposes. In contrast, functionally illiterate individuals can read and potentially write simple sentences with a limited vocabulary, but cannot read or write well enough to handle the daily requirements of life in their own society.

Many young children on our continent enter school speaking their native tongue  however, do not experience any continuity with that language – instead being taught in Arabic or a European language. This process of language learning might be disruptive to our young learners, as research shows that when young children have the foundation of literacy in their native tongue it is easier for them to transition to another language.

According to the Global Education Monitoring Report, at least 14% of adults across the world are illiterate. In 2015, 58 million children and 63 million teenagers did not have access to basic and secondary education and were not able to learn how to read or write; with women representing two thirds of 781 million illiterates worldwide. The report also cites that 9 out of 10 countries with the highest illiteracy rate are African countries! (For more details see Global Education Monitoring Report.)

According to an infograph released by the Unesco Institute for Statistics on Literacy as of 2015, sub-Saharan Africa has a 64% literacy rate. South Sudan ranks lowest of them all, with a literacy rate of just 27%,  Burkina Faso at 28.7%, Niger at 28.7%, Mali at 33.4%, Chad at 35.4%, Somalia at 37.8%, Ethiopia at 39%, Guinea at 41% and Benin at 42.4%. This same research  found that of the 774 million illiterate adults recorded in 2013, two thirds of these, or about 493 million, are women who are unable or have difficulties reading text messages, filling out forms and reading their doctor’s prescription. Additionally, there are 123 million people between 15 and 24 years of age who cannot read or write. Of these illiterate youth, 76 million are women and 54 million of them are based in only nine countries: IndiaPakistanNigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, United Republic of TanzaniaEgypt and Burkina Faso.

Currently The Gambia has a 36% literacy rate. Statistics also show that the median age of the population in the Gambia from 1950 to 2050* is 17.5 years old. With a strong youth population, Gambia must take seriously the cause of literacy and recognize the need to educate young boys and girls.

These statistics are mind blowing considering our continent has the youngest population on the planet. With this knowledge, when will policy makers begin to do long term planning for the next 100 years by investing in our infants and toddlers? What is the plan to increase literacy? What is the plan for our youth population? Will we allow them all to flee their communities to Europe or South America on makeshift boats?

Educating your youth population is crucial for our continent’s continued positive growth, and development. When we invest in literacy, we will also see the results in our people. Among the several benefits of literacy in an individual, the ability to read and write helps to build self-esteem and self confidence in citizens.

Part of this self-confidence comes from one’s ability to express oneself with an extensive vocabulary. The inability to express yourself through writing or speaking can be frustrating. This can lead to anxiety, depression, or other issues that impact the overall quality of life. The more able a person is to express themselves, the greater their confidence, their self-esteem, and their chance at living a happy, healthy life.

Many of our young children (0-5yrs) on the continent do not have access to books.These early years are critical for brain development, as the architecture of the brain is being formed. Not having access to books the young brain is missing out on valuable experiences  that young children need,we call them life skills.

Having access to books expands the knowledge of young children, allowing them to learn about other children’s culture and beliefs. Books allow children to enhance their communication skills and learn how to make decisions and have choices. When reading, books can transport them to new places, and help them learn, creative out of the box thinking.

The World Literacy Foundation reported that illiteracy and low levels of literacy estimated costs total approximately £800 billion to the global economy annually. Global economies are moving towards a knowledge-based economy, to adequately prepare our communities, literacy will be an essential skill to compete in the global economy. With the high proportion of illiterate adults on the continent so many opportunities remain inaccessible as individuals are not adequately skilled to participate in this growing global economy. This results in slower GDP growth in the long term.

As an educator, I have observed that investing in infants and toddlers gives our society a 100% Return on Investment (ROI). When children get to kindergarten with pre-literacy skills, they will begin a journey of lifelong learning and grow up to be positive contributors to our continent. Investing in the early years will help prepare the next generation of African leaders and citizens. When we encourage children in this way, we help develop children’s brains, so they grow up to become adults who are able to use their executive functioning.

I hope that policy makers on the African continent will begin to understand the many  benefits of having a literate continent. When we invest in literacy during the first 2000 days we will have a literate continent. When we invest in the future now, our continent will be able to compete in the global economy in the future. Let’s get our children ready to participate in 21st and 22nd century markets.

Daseta Gray

Vice Chair,  Sabree Education Services Gambia

Edited by: Nyasha Franklin


  • Basit, Nimra. “15 Reasons Why Reading Is Important.” Curious Desire, 26 Oct. 2021, 
  • Dirie, Waris. “Africa Has the Highest Illiteracy Rate Worldwide.” Save a Little Desert Flower, 29 Mar. 2016, 
  • Giovetti, Olivia. “6 Benefits of Literacy in the Fight against Poverty.” Concern Worldwide, 27 Apr. 2020, 
  • Cago, Lanessa. “25 Most Illiterate Countries.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 25 Apr. 2017, 
  • Low, Amanda, and Nicola Miranda. “The Impact of Illiteracy and the Importance of Early Intervention.” World Literacy Foundation, 23 July 2021, 
  • “Why Literacy?” World Literacy Foundation, 3 June 2022,
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Shifting perspectives on using communication devices as learning tools can increase access to education and support learning in low resource contexts

Using devices like smartphones as learning tools can be a low-cost, high impact method of increasing access to education, especially for hard-to-reach learners

Around the world, crises are increasing the number of children who are losing access to education. Conflict in Ukraine, militias in eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, gang violence in Central America, and the growing food crisis in the eastern Africa are adding to already staggering numbers of children who are displaced and falling behind in education. By the end of 2021, children and families displaced by war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses stood at 89.3 million, up eight per cent from a year earlier and well over double the figure of 10 years ago, according to UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report.

Providing quality education in low resource countries is difficult enough without the added challenges associated with crises, especially for migrants and refugee children who lose access to  traditional school environments. In addition, crises are not monolithic; contexts are different in each one, adding to the challenges of finding ways to keep children accessing education and learning as they travel from country to country. What works in one situation may not work in another.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) believes education technology can continue children’s learning when access to traditional education environments is limited. With devices as simple as a mobile or smartphone, children, parents and their teachers can access evidence-based literacy and learning applications and thousands of high-quality digital books in languages they use and understand–whether they are at home, on the move, in refugee camps, migrant settlements, reading clubs, or host-country schools and libraries.

With devices as simple as a mobile or smartphone, children, parents and their teachers can access evidence-based literacy and learning applications and thousands of high-quality digital books in languages they use and understand….

Shifting perspectives

Smartphone with a screen shot of Feed the Monster, an app to help increase foundational literacyInnovators like Curious Learning are shifting perspectives on using devices like smartphones from communication tools to learning tools, especially for hard to reach learners. The organization localizes, distributes and measures use of digital learning software, including Feed the Monster–a literacy app created through the ACR GCD EduApp4Syria competition in 2016–which is now available in more than 50 languages with 600,000+ users globally. Most recently, the organization created a Ukrainian version of the app, which reached over 100,000 downloads within two months.

“The traditional model views schools as the single entry point to children’s learning,” says Creesen Naicker, Curious Learning’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, “but we take a ‘fit for purpose’ approach.”

EdTech enables literacy content to be easily adapted to different situations, explains Naicker. Giving children access to learning through apps like Feed the Monster can fill gaps in support of traditional education–or the absence of it–and high-quality content featured in Feed the Monster, digital libraries and other learning applications don’t need to be delivered by a trained facilitator and can be used alone, in groups or in school, Naicker points out.

But EdTech faces challenges in getting into the hands of children. Naicker says there’s a need to shift paradigms in the education sector. “There are several limiting beliefs that hold individuals and institutions back from pursuing innovative and potentially game changing solutions using new mediums like smartphones,” he says.

Naicker and other innovators often find themselves mythbusting misconceptions about EdTech, like it’s too expensive, it isolates children, children don’t have access to devices, or that it has little educational value or just doesn’t work–the last being a misconception too often encountered by Rama Kayyali of Little Thinking Minds and Nedjma Koval of INTEGRATEDACR GCD grant awardees in 2014.

“There are so many naysayers out there, which is shocking in the post-COVID environment,” reflects Koval, who says the issue is compounded by the wide range of EdTech available, some of which does not work, and the need to help people distinguish between those and evidence-based and tested EdTech that is extremely effective in improving reading and learning.

Below are several key concepts and examples around when and how EdTech can provide access to education and support continued learning for children in low-resource contexts, including crisis and conflict situations.

Edtech is a game changer when appropriately applied 

Over the past 10 years, ACR GCD has compiled a range of research and resources showing that EdTech with high-quality content, when applied appropriately, enables access to learning for marginalized populations, significantly lowers the cost of providing reading content and exponentially improves reading outcomes. Our technology-based literacy projects have not only effectively disseminated new or existing learning materials to underserved populations in languages they use and understand but also enabled equitable access to teaching and learning materials for children with disabilities.

In particular, EdTech with high-quality content can be a game changer in contexts where it provides access to education and learning materials for a child who previously did not have access, where it significantly lowers the cost of providing access as compared to the status quo, and where it can significantly increase relevant learning outcomes as compared to current programs.

Increasing inclusive access

When applied appropriately, EdTech can be an equalizer for access to literacy, particularly for girls and children with disabilities.

For example, digital literacy games and apps can increase reading outcomes in out of school settings for girls, particularly those who are denied other educational opportunities. When evaluating the impact of two of the literacy apps created through the EduApp4Syria Prize, Feed the Monster and Antura and the Lettersdata on both apps show girls making gains, particularly in oral reading fluency, which is a strong predictor of reading comprehension. A recent World Bank study that distributed $40 cell phones preloaded with Feed the Monster and the Global Digital Library to 3,000 children in Northern Nigeria indicates that literacy apps in homes have a spillover effect, increasing literacy skills in siblings (including sisters) at a just slightly lower percentage than the main child using the app.

Screenshot of the World Around You platformProducing high-quality digital books with accessible formats and features–like text highlighting, audio, eBraille, large print and sign language–ensures children with disabilities have the same opportunities to participate in education. The World Around You platform, created with funding awarded through the ACR GCD Sign on For Literacy Prize, includes an online library of digital sign language storybooks as well as open source software that enables communities to create literacy content in local and national sign languages. These storybooks are easily accessed on smartphones, tablets and computers in homes, classrooms and other settings, and can be downloaded as ePubs and used offline. In Malawi, ACR GCD innovator eKitabu is creating 220 eBraille storybooks, which can be uploaded on Orbit readers (a refreshable braille display and stand-alone reader device). With funding from ACR GCD, Benetech’s human narrated stories on Bookshare provide students who are blind and low vision with accessible educational content to listen to on low-cost audio devices while simultaneously reading braille. (Learn more about reading materials for children who are blind and low vision.)

EdTech grounded in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles is particularly effective in advancing inclusive learning with accessible digital content. UDL is a theoretical framework that focuses on assisting teachers in planning to meet students’ diverse needs and developing flexible learning environments and learning spaces that can accommodate individual learning differences. Last year, ACR GCD awardee eKitabu trained teachers in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps how to apply the three UDL principles through the use of hands-on examples using the android tablets provided by Humanity and Inclusion and loaded with accessible digital content.

Improving psychosocial outcomes and social connections

EdTech can also impact a child’s emotional and psychological well-being as well as build connections in communities.

Feed the Monster and Antura and the Letters were designed to not only build foundational literacy but also improve the psychosocial well-being for Syrian refugee children. Parents of children using the apps reported that their children were not only improving their reading skills by using the app but were happy afterwards.

In 2018, Little Thinking Minds implemented the Live in Harmony multimedia project in 100 public schools in Jordan as part of the Ministry of Education’s work to provide an innovative approach to educational needs of children, with a focus on instilling social values and improving social cohesion through multimedia learning. The project not only resulted in an increase in literacy performance and awareness of social cohesion vocabulary, but also an increase in social and collaborative behavior among Syrians and Jordanians children attending double-shifted schools.

According to the World Bank, EdTech can also create new connections between teachers, students, parents and broader communities to reform and reimagine the way education is delivered.

Taking advantage of growing mobile phone ownership and use

Estimates of how much of the world’s population own smart or mobile phones ranges from 50% to more than 80%, and the number is growing. Smartphones and the ability to access social media platforms through them are now an essential part of a refugee’s toolkit. In 2016, UNHCR reported that 71% of the world’s refugee households at that time owned a mobile phone, and 93% of all refugees lived in areas covered by either 2G or 3G networks, representing a potential way to communicate with and provide resources to these populations.

And, according to Curious Learning’s data, children are using their parents’ phones. “Either millions of adults are playing our early learning apps, or their children are,” says Naicker.

Making a low-cost, big impact

A cell phone with a screenshot of the online digital platform, Global Digital LibraryA substantial amount of evidence-based, effective EdTech reading and learning material is available for free use, adaptation and distribution. For example, online libraries like the Global Digital LibraryBloomLet’s Read Asia and others house thousands of free high-quality, accessible digital reading and learning materials that are available online and offline, downloadable, adaptable and able to be translated online as well, making reading material easily–and cheaply– accessible in languages children use and understand.

Social media has proven to be a powerful tool in promoting high-quality digital apps and games. “We’ve been able to put apps in the hands of children at very low costs,” says Naicker. In Nepal, Curious Learning spent $10,000 on Facebook promotion and reached 135,000 children. During their promotional push to Ukrainian refugees, Naicker reports that the average advertising cost per download was 15 cents.

Innovators, humanitarian organizations and others serving populations where smartphones and digital devices are scarce might consider whether programs that distribute devices preloaded with literacy and learning apps may be effective. The World Bank study that distributed inexpensive cell phones preloaded with Feed the Monster and the Global Digital Library to children in Northern Nigeria provides compelling evidence that high-quality EdTech can improve reading outcomes in as little as five days, with learning outcomes continuing to improve one month out–leading researchers to recommend similar EdTech interventions to address literacy and education.

The World Bank study that distributed inexpensive cell phones preloaded with Feed the Monster and the Global Digital Library to children in Northern Nigeria provides compelling evidence that high-quality EdTech can improve reading outcomes in as little as five days, with learning outcomes continuing to improve one month out–leading researchers to recommend similar EdTech interventions to address literacy and education.

Thinking beyond 1:1 child/device ratio to increase access and impact–and address the digital divide 

To increase impact and usage of digital books and content–and address the digital divide, educators and innovators should also consider thinking beyond the one-to-one child-to-device paradigm.

For example, using digital, open source and accessible teaching and learning materials on smartphones connected to PICO projectors can turn any environment into a learning environment, complementing printed books, when they are available, and extending access to  reading materials especially for children who use underserved languages and children with disabilities.

In contexts with no functioning community or school libraries, an e-library with collections of as few as 5 tablets that can be lent out to or used by children in community centers, reading camps and child friendly spaces. This type of lending library is attractive to children, provides personalized learning and ICT skills acquisition.

Both of the above strategies not only increase impact and usage but also address barriers to using digital learning materials and books.

Be part of the solution

Be part of the solution for the more than 584 million children globally waiting for the opportunity to learn to read.

Together, we can advance EdTech solutions to improve reading outcomes for marginalized children across the world.

Author: All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge For Development


Reading Day with UP, Sun Books and WLF

Reading Day to Encourage Children to Read More

The Reading Day event that took place at Confidence College in the Pretoria CBD on Friday, 15 October, was aimed at inspiring learners to read and add meaning to text in an interactive, fun, and creative way. This event was organized by our partner in South Africa, Dr. Mia le Roux (Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria), the board member of the Gauteng branch of the Literacy Association of South Africa (Litasa) in collaboration with Mrs Anélize van Eeden (principal of Confidence College) and Dr. Renata Eccles (fourth-year Speech-Language Pathology practical module coordinator in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP). Dr. Le Roux and Dr. Bernice Badal (English Department, UNISA, and chair of the Gauteng branch of Litasa), attended the event at the school and took part in the activities.

Reading Day with UP, Sun Books and WLF


The students of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, facilitated the activities with the grade RR to grade 7 classes. The events per class started with a song, a rhyme or a brief game focused on the story followed by the story being read. The learners then had the opportunity to do various fun educational activities relating to the different stories read.

Reading Day

The characters in the stories came alive amongst drawings, crowns, cowboy hats, hen- and goat masks, spiderwebs, and many more. In turn, the school came alive with splashes of color in different hues flashing by as busy feet, minds, ears, and hands moved to the rhythm and rhyme of the words making them come alive in a memorable way.

 The principal, Mrs. Van Eeden, said that “the atmosphere was loaded with excitement since the Monday prior to the actual event”. On Friday, she was wearing a story character dress with drawings made by herself and painted by the learners. The staff and learners dressed up in various costumes each relating to a specific story being read per class. Everybody involved felt that it was a highly successful event. Dr. Badal offered special thanks to the principal and staff “who showed us that growing up does not mean that we need to forget that learning is fun”. She continued to thank the students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, who prepared and executed all the activities with passion and dedication.  She concluded by thanking the sponsors of the event, the World Literacy Foundation (WLF), Sun Books, and Tobias, saying that the Gauteng branch of Litasa is grateful to all the key players that made this day possible and hope that many similar events will take place in future.


Dr. Le Roux mentioned that fostering lifelong literacy is often forgotten in the drive to improve the literacy skills of Foundation Phase learners. However, the need to be competent readers never stops; in fact, it becomesReading aloud at the classroom more important as learners enter higher grades and the need for reading and understanding complex academic text increases. This event by the Gauteng branch of Litasa is therefore seen as the first of many, especially as the principal of the school expressed the hope that the Reading Day will be repeated on a yearly basis.

The students involved stated that one must never forget that literacy forms the foundation of academic success. They mentioned that participating in the Reading Day at Confidence College was a privilege and working with the learners was extremely exciting and rewarding. The final year Speech-Language Pathology students also conducted hearing screening on 33 children with the support of a Master’s audiology student. There are plans to conduct hearing screening on more children from Confidence College next year. This community engagement project allowed the students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, to accumulate much needed practical hours. Dr. Eccles observed that the students had the opportunity to have fun within their professional training. She continued to say that the students “got a chance to remember the reason they do all this hard work and the difference they can make!”. 

Finally, Prof Jeannie van der Linde, head of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at UP concluded with the following statement: “As a department, we strive to improve the literacy of our children to ensure that they have the capacity to excel academically. Book reading from an early age is one of the best ways of improving literacy abilities in young children. Fostering a love for reading is, therefore, the name of the game.” 



University of Pretoria

Dr. Mia le Roux (Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria)

Dr. Renata Eccles (fourth-year Speech-Language Pathology practical module coordinator in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP)

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Disparity Between Ideal and Real Online Education

The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new approaches but also new challenges to the world. Education systems have been affected and consequently are witnessing significant changes in their policies and methodologies.

The Online Education

UNESCO suggests different ways to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on education, some of them are linked to technological platforms and the internet.

In some African countries, an introduction of online learning resources and strategies has allowed learning to continue. This approach seems ideal, considering the need for social distancing measures, however, there are challenges not yet addressed by governments hoping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the education sector.

Access to the Internet

In 2018, a UN study published through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), showed that only half of the world population had access to the internet. For instance, in Africa, around 24% of the population use the internet (an increase from 2.1% in 2005).

Although access to the internet is increasing, there are many countries in Africa where a large percentage of the population is still offline. High prices, slow connections and weak infrastructure have been reported as the main problems and definitely limit the effectiveness of teaching and learning through online platforms.

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Teachers Training

An effective and inclusive implementation of online education must also consider factors such as learning resources and teacher training. There is vast inequality in the access to digital learning tools, including infrastructure, equipment and teacher’s preparedness.

But it’s not all bad news. The online teaching practices during the Covid-19 crisis are pushing the education sector for a technology upgrade and a positive system transformation that will endure into the future.


  • UN
  • ITU
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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Illiteracy

illiteracy povertyIt is undeniable that poverty has a direct impact on children’s development. Millions of children around the world live in poverty and suffer from human rights violations, such as abuse and working exploitation.

Literacy seems to be the key to lifting children out of poverty, but what if their minds are overwhelmed by stress? According to research, children raised in poverty are more prone to suffer from stress and the long-term effects can be detrimental. They will struggle to make informed decisions, recall information, and exercise sound judgment. Their creative thinking abilities will also be limited.

It is therefore imperative that the effects of stress are taken into consideration when outlining strategies to reduce illiteracy.

Transform the Role of Teachers

illiteracy povertyTo empower children to participate and ask questions, teachers must establish a learning environment based on psychological safety. Some strategies include sticking to a predictable schedule, celebrating small goals, and personally addressing each child’s needs.

Since poverty can impact memory, it is also crucial that teachers extend patience and reassure students that it is okay to make mistakes. Fear of punishment or embarrassment will only stifle curiosity.

Finally, teachers must be trained to monitor and identify signs of stress in their students, should they need additional support.

Involve Parents and Families

Research shows that parents in poverty may become less inviting and compassionate as they try to balance finances, health, and caregiving. If parents are emotionally distant and cannot afford to prioritize their children’s development, this will cause additional stress.

As literacy requires time, encouragement and practice, children without support will lose out on valuable opportunities to apply their learning. By providing parents with support in the form of plans, materials, and a forum to seek advice, they can play a more active role in integrating literacy and a well-rounded education into their child’s day-to-day life.

poverty illiteracy 3Enable Social Connection

Children in poverty and living under stressful situations often feel alienated from others and have difficulty expressing themselves. Loneliness will only increase the anxiety they feel, further inhibiting their potential and continuing the cycle.

To foster more connection, children should be taught in collaborative settings. Encouraging children to read alongside their peers, share feedback, and build relationships provides a more engaging and enriching experience. A good learning experience that produces results should not feel like work – it should be fun!

The World Literacy Foundation strives to ensure its initiatives mitigate stress. Parental guides are provided to empower families to support children at home. Children also have access to literacy tutoring sessions in which they can safely learn, play, and even share a meal. The WLF has rolled out initiatives like the Kids Read One! Project to allow an entire class to read, learn, and socialize together.

Written by: Charanya Thiyan


featured literacy Sun books

Literacy, the Access Code to Healing the World

Education in Nigeria The World Literacy Foundation as a global non-profit organization that seeks to create a greater understanding and awareness of literacy to the wider community through the use of social media, conferences, media, training, research, and collaborative partnerships in the sector. A case study undergone in Nigeria, known as the giant of Africa reports that 35 percent of its adult population is illiterate, and this number remains high because solutions made to address the issue have not seen success in yielding desired results.  Indeed, it is worrisome that 35 percent of the nation’s population is currently facing the consequences of illiteracy. Moreover, it is often unknown that the high rate of illiteracy is, in part, due to the low level of development in Nigeria.  Growth and development in any nation are dependent on the quality of resources available to the entire population.  

Sun BooksUsing solar power to educate

Sun Books is an initiative developed by the World Literacy Foundation that has designed and developed educational software that is preloaded onto solar-powered tablets.  Each tablet contains digital content and eBooks in English and the local language. Tablets are given to classrooms of early primary-level children, and teacher training on the usage of the program is also provided. Each tablet is effective, regardless of Internet access or electricity, which is important in territories such as Uganda where only 26.7% of the population has access to electricity, and Internet connectivity is limited, unstable, and low-speed.  

Ending the poverty cycle

Sun BooksAt the moment our team is based in Gulu, Uganda and we are expanding the project into other locations in Africa such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Guyana, and South Africa. We believe in literacy as the foundation of lifelong learning and education, and people that cannot read or write experience difficulties in developing simple everyday tasks, such as reading medicine labels, filling in job applications, or understanding traffic signs. When we help people to acquire literacy skills, we are empowering them to afford better opportunities in life, and little by little we are striving to break the poverty cycle.


©Copyright Sun Books. All right reserved.

An initiative by the World Literacy Foundation

©Copyright Sun Books. All right reserved. An initiative by the World Literacy Foundation

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