Create Sustainable Change Through Literacy Volunteer Programs

by Elsa Thomasma

Since 1965, September 8th has been celebrated around the world as International Literacy Day. To commemorate the event, organizations, schools, community groups, and individuals put together fundraising events, reading marathons, and various activities to raise awareness about the need for increased access to education and the opportunity of literacy around the world.

International Literacy Day seeks to recognize the need for literacy as a human right of every individual on Earth. Therefore, International Literacy Day is a day of awareness raising, a day when the world is encouraged to turn their eyes to those who currently have no access to resources that can bring about literacy.

For the year 2015, the theme of International Literacy Day is focused on the need for literacy in order for the world to create a sustainable future for generations to come. The projected impact of increased literacy throughout the world is astonishing, and something that should spark a drive in every human, to do their part.

But literacy is not something that should be given only one day. Literacy is something each one of us can contribute to throughout the year, in unique ways or in simple ways. On this International Literacy Day, we bring you five programs to consider joining to help improve literacy around the world.

1. Join Conservation Travel Africa in Zimbabwe

Volunteers who participate in this program will travel to stunning Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to work with students at rural primary schools. Welcoming anyone from teaching students to education professionals, this program provides volunteers with the chance to not only instruct students, but also improve the curriculum and techniques the teachers use to educate students. Volunteer teachers will create new innovative programs to help students become more engaged in their education. Therefore, this program will directly affect literacy rates in the community by developing sustainable changes to the education system and the way classes are instructed.

Child coloring

2. Work with GeoVisions in Thailand

GeoVisions gives volunteers a unique opportunity to promote literacy in Thailand as a summer English camp counselor in multiple locations throughout the country. Each summer camp serves children from disadvantaged families and is focused on improving English skills, which is a highly valuable skill in Thailand. While teaching and mentoring local students, volunteers will no doubt learn a great deal about Thai culture, and even the Thai language.

3. Assist Kaya Responsible Travel in Ghana

Those who join Kaya in Accra, Ghana can become a part of the fundraising and grant writing team that is driven by the desire to increase access to books and promote reading skills for children and adults in low-income communities. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to assess the impact of access to books on local students’ reading abilities, by monitoring their progress, which will help improve the program as well as secure future funding. Kaya volunteers in Accra will also have the chance to work directly with students, helping them to improve their reading skills.

4. Experience Spain with Connect-123

Connect-123’s program gives volunteers the opportunity to promote literacy in a range of projects, but most importantly through supporting child literacy programs in Barcelona. Although Spanish language skills will help volunteers connect with local students and other locals on a deeper level, sole English speakers are welcomed to join this program (and will inevitably learn a little Spanish along the way). Most volunteers will find themselves working directly with students to help improve their educational opportunities.

5. Become Part of Volunteering Solutions in Morocco

Low-income communities around the world are some of the most needy communities when it comes to educational resources and literacy, and Morocco is no exception. Those who join Volunteering Solutions in Rabat, Morocco will be able to impact literacy rates by teaching a variety of subjects at both public and private schools. The majority of schools in Morocco are under resourced, so international teachers will become a big asset to students’ education.

A volunteer teacher

Photo Courtesy of Pangea Educational Development

6. Volunteer with Pangea Educational Development in Uganda

Pangea Educational Development (PED) was established by two teachers with one essential mission, increase literacy in Uganda by providing the structure, stability, and resources students need to be successful. Those who volunteer with PED will have the chance to affect education in multiple ways. Depending on the timing of each volunteer program and the skills of the volunteer, volunteers may help improve local classrooms, teach students, or provide training and professional development for Ugandan teachers.