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International Literacy Day 2008, September 8. Photos courtesy: UN.Org & eEyeCam. Illustration: eEyeCam


Primary school students at Dharampur Primary School, Thumka-7, Thulolumpek, Gulmi, western Nepal where I completed my primary education in the late '70s. Photos: eEyeCam

Challenges of 21st Century-9: International Literacy Day 2008
One Billion People Cannot Read Or Write
Nepal Among the 16 Least Literate Countries out of World's 177


New York, September 8, 2008- "Kalo Akshar Bhaisilai Barabar". This is a saying in Nepali which means a black alphabet has no meaning to a buffalo or to me. That's what the alphabet means to an estimated one billion of the world's people today. Isn't it sad enough to know this fact in our digital era?

But there is something to look forward to. On January 18, 2002, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution which declared 'United Nations Literacy Decade: education for all' (2003-2012). International Literacy Day is celebrated every year on September 8. The success of this declaration depends on every nation's initiative.

The United Nations estimates that there are more than 861 million illiterate adults, and over 113 million children who have no access to school.
 
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Human Development Report 2007/2008 data reflects that 16 countries have an adult literacy rate below 50 percent of their total population. There is a total of 177 countries in the report.

Those with lower than 50 percent adult literacy rate are: Pakistan (49.9%), Cote d Ivoire (48.7%), Central African Republic (48.6%), Nepal (48.6), Bhutan (47%), Bangladesh (47.5%), Senegal (39.3%), Mozambique (38.7%), Benin (34.7%), Ethiopia (35.9%), Sierra Leone (34.8%), Guinea (29.5%), Niger (28.7%), Chad (25.7%), Mali (24%), and Burkina Faso (23.6%).

Nepal spends 3.4 percent of its GDP on education. Nepal ranked 142nd out of the total 177 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index 2007/2008. Nepal is ahead of 28 of its 49 fellow LDCs in this index.
(Read my article about The Fate of the World’s 49 Poorest Countries; Nepal needs 55 years and more to be out of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) List)

Not such a good sign even with mighty nations. Our neighbor India, which has an adult literacy rate of 61 percent, spends 3.8 percent on education while the USA spends 5.9 percent. USAToday quoted the National Adult Literacy Survey that shows 25% of U.S. adults read at the lowest functional level, meaning, for example, that they can locate an expiration date on a driver's license but cannot fill out most motor-vehicle forms.

Not good with my family either. Sad to say many of my fellow human beings cannot read this article. Many of my uncles, aunts, and my 75 year old mother who lives in a remote village in Nepal also cannot read this article. When I published my seven books in 2000
(see my books), I dedicated them all to my parents by including their photo just inside the cover so that at least she can see her photograph and understand how much I value their wisdom in sending me to school to learn to read and write.

Happy Literacy Day, truly!

My parents late Jitbahadur Thapa and Tili Thapa. This photo was taken in Singapore where my father served at the police force as an Inspector between 1951-59.

-Pradeep Thapa Magar in New Jersey, USA. Comments? 551-358-7726
 
Read our
Challenges of 21st Century Series by Pradeep Thapa:

Challenges of the 21st Century-8
Celebrating Youth: International Youth Day 2008
"Youth and Climate Change: Time for Action"
Challenges of the 21st Century-7
The Fate of the World’s 49 Poorest Countries
Nepal needs 55 years and more to be out of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) List
Challenges of the 21st Century-6
World Population Day: 6,709,195,643 (GMT 01:57) and Counting...
Challenges of the 21st Century-5
Women’s Commission releases landmark report on refugees with disabilities:
Voice of 3.5 million people with disabilities among the world’s 35 million displaced people
Challenges of the 21st Century-4
World Refugee Day 2008: "We're thinking of you this day"
-UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador & Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie
Challenges of the 21st Century-3
World Environment Day 2008 & CO2
Challenges of the 21st Century-2
World’s Indigenous Voices Echo at United Nations Headquarters in New York
Challenges of the 21st Century-1
Dedicate an Hour of Darkness to the Mother Earth
  तपाईंको भनाइ लेखी छाड्‍न र अरुको भनाइ पढ्न यहाँ क्लिक गर्नुहोस्
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