The Importance of Literacy


Literacy in a population is defined as the number of people, aged 15 and older, who can both read and write. In 2015, only 38.2% of Afghanistan’s population was literate – 52% of men, and 24.2% of women. In Pakistan, 57.9% of the population was literate – 69.5% of men and 45.8% of women. Why are literacy rates so low in both of these countries? Why is this important, and how can we improve it?

There are a number of factors that contribute to low literacy rates. Literacy is affected by location, and is typically lower in rural areas. In cities, there are usually higher literacy rates. For example, in Islamabad, with a population of 2 million, literacy reached nearly 96%. Women in both countries have significantly lower literacy rates than men. This is often due to cultural norms and traditional roles. But what happens if we allow girls to receive an education?

Literacy improves self-confidence. Being able to read and write empowers individuals to be active in their community, and involved in social discussions. There is also evidence that literacy improves health. When individuals are able to read and write, they are able to make better choices with their healthcare. Investing in education can create changes over generations. Women who receive an education are more than two times as likely to send their own children to school. Additionally, it is also economically advantageous for girls to receive an education. Countries can lose up to $1 billion of their GDP in a year by not providing girls the same educational opportunities as boys. An extra year of school can increase a girl’s income by 20% when she is an adult.

Barakat works hard to provide education at no cost to our students. This includes classes, uniforms, books, stationary, firewood, clean water, health services, and teacher salaries. Donations from supporters of Barakat make our work possible.

$50 = 1 year of literacy

$90 = 1 year of elementary school

$110 = 1 year of middle school

$170 = 1 year of high school

$1,300 = 1 entire literacy program for a year

For more information, or if you would like to donate to Barakat, please click here. Literacy improves people’s lives, and Barakat allows communities to thrive.



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