Monday, September 5, 2016

GFA -Day 4 of the challenge: the problem with illiteracy

        When we were in India recently there were articles in the newspaper commenting on the state of education. In many places it’s poor. Huge numbers of children are illiterate, perhaps because although enrolling in school is mandatory, attending is not. Well, let’s rephrase that. Attendance is mandatory, but record keeping is not state of the art.  And what happens when children get so far behind in school that they eventually drop out?  Yes, adults who are classified as illiterate. You wouldn't be able to read this blog. I wouldn't be able to write it. We wouldn't be able to drive, use social media, understand bus schedules or the instructions on our medicine bottles. 

         A recent number provided by GFA indicates that ¼ of the people in India can’t read or write. With the population of India at about 1.3 billion, that means that over 300 million people, men, women and children, don’t enjoy the pleasure of reading or writing. Throughout parts of Asia that is a trend, one in which women fare poorly. Over 250 million women are illiterate. 

      That's a lot of women who are permanently disadvantaged. They can't fill out a job application, they don't understand the 'norms' of a particular situation and so they find themselves in trouble, and they are vulnerable to being abused or cheated by those they have to depend on for assistance. 

        They sign bad contracts, they can't read warning labels, and they are cheated in the marketplace because they can't do simple math. And for Christians there is another problem: they can't read their Bibles.  In one part of India people who can read are encouraged to read the Bible aloud - faith comes by hearing, But for those of us who find comfort in the words of the Psalmist, or turn to the Gospels and Epistles looking for answers to life's questions, imagine what it would be like if we no longer had that option.  

    A few weeks ago a member of my congregation told me that she had recently got a new smart phone, and it had an app for the Bible. She was already to follow along as I read the scripture for the day.  Then something happened: she had the passage open in the NIV, but I was reading from the MESSAGE.  What she was looking at didn't resemble what I was reading. It made no sense in context. Hundreds of millions of women face this dilemma every time they go to church. They can't pick up a bible and follow along as someone reads. There's a three 3 minute video clip that illustrates the problem - and offers a solution.   You can help break this cycle by supporting GFA's efforts. GFA has programs designed to help women learn to read and learn basic math, This knowledge helps women empower themselves, it helps them provide for their families, and helps them succeed in a world in which the odds are stacked against them.  One dollar is all it takes to provide that boost for a woman who has never had the opportunity to learn.
      Sept 8th, is International Literacy Day. Your donation can make a huge difference in the life of a woman, and her children. Pray that the cycle of illiteracy would be broken for families throughout Asia, and pray about donating to efforts that further the cause of adult literacy. 

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