International Literacy Day, celebrated each year on September 8th since 1966, is recognized throughout the world as a day to promote the importance of literacy and advance a more literate society. For many people it’s hard to fully take part in their communities, both socially and economically, if they are illiterate. To address this issue worldwide, the 4th Sustainable Development Goal targets creating equitable access to education, acknowledging that literacy is an integral part of daily life.
Through our mission, FINCA International is supporting literacy around the world—through both our own programs as well as through our partner organizations. Read on to learn how.
Education in the Time of Covid-19
COVID-19 has severely disrupted in-person learning, and maintaining an education can be hindered by a lack of technological requirements. Eneza Education, a FINCA Ventures investee, has worked to bridge this gap in education.
Though usually at a cost equivalent to about $0.10 a week, their platform is currently free for students in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire during the pandemic. With Eneza’s free services, students continue receiving government-accredited curriculum through a mobile phone at home and avoid losing years of educational progress. Subscribers have access to: curriculum and resources, real-time engagement with teachers, participation in reader boards, and peer competitions.
Advancing Literacy through Women’s Empowerment
With the start of a new school year, we are faced with a renewed appreciation of the importance of education. We are learning just how much students can struggle when they are removed from the classroom. But for many children around the world, this has been their reality for generations. For many, access to schools and technology, and ultimately literacy, are not a guarantee. Those who are most affected by this lack of education are girls.
These 5 staggering facts highlight how women and girls continue to be left behind:
- 516 women around the world are illiterate—making up two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults
- Globally, 132 million girls are not in school
- For each year of secondary education, the likelihood a girl will marry before reaching adulthood reduces by 5+ percentage points
- Girls and boys provided with equal access to education in less than 40% of countries
- Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to never learn to read and write in primary school
But at FINCA, we are working to change these statistics. We are proud to support women throughout the world who are: building schools in their communities, using expanded income from their FINCA loans to send their daughters to school, and working to continue their own educations.
One example of how FINCA is empowering women to change their lives is Lucia Margarita Pacajoj Ticum’s story. As a craftswoman in Guatemala selling authentic souvenirs at a weekly market, her income was never quite enough. She could not even afford the transportation costs to send her children to school. Though she worked hard, Lucia was never able to grow her business the way she’d hoped—at least not until she received her first FINCA loan. With her loan, Lucia was finally able to purchase more materials to expand her offerings and grow her business. And understanding the importance of schooling—Lucia only completed up to the sixth grade and her husband never went to school—Lucia was finally able to send her daughters to school with her increased income. She hopes her daughters will go on to attend university, creating more opportunity for their future.
International Literacy Day and Beyond
Since its founding, FINCA has placed women at the core of its mission. And the support of our donors is instrumental in helping us to reach even more women and girls, especially as we continue working to counter barriers to education for young girls.
But now with the prevalence of COVID-19, women and girls are at risk of falling even further behind—in literacy, as well as other social and economic areas. However, FINCA is working to make sure this doesn’t happen. In many countries, more than half of FINCA’s clients are women, and with FINCA loans women can grow their businesses and send their children to school. These women, with their expanded businesses, are creating long lasting legacies through their children and their education. We cannot wait to see all that our clients and partners are able to achieve by next International Literacy Day!