Article by: Anne Allen
Programme Coordinator Zone 1

International Literacy Day (ILD) is celebrated annually on September 8th. The intention is “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.”

(Reference https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday) What a very passionate statement and one that will undoubtedly resonate with many Soroptimists. The focus for this year was on the impact of COVID-19 and how the future will be affected by it. Schools closed in many places and many literacy programmes were halted during the early stages of the pandemic. For some the arrangements were temporary as arrangements were made to create online resources and schools re-opened. This was not the case for everyone. Technology is not always an option and the outfall from this year will continue for many years for people who have had their schooling disrupted and in some cases terminated. Estimates are that over 11 million girls may not go back to school after the crisis is over. This is a very distressing statistic and one that we should all seek to change. UNESCO and members of the Global Education Coalition have started a new #LearningNeverStops campaign to ensure that every girl is able to learn while schools are closed and return to the classroom when schools safely reopen.
Included is a link to the UNESCO Facebook please have a look and consider sharing the updates to keep this important topic on people’s minds. Consider if a Friendship Link might provide an opportunity for resources to be sent to areas in most need.
As Soroptimists with a strong focus to Educate - we will need to be vigilant to see opportunities where we can help, not just for girls, but for adults who but for this disruption to their education caused by the pandemic may have had much brighter futures.

October the 5th is World Teachers Day, (although in Australia it is celebrated later in the month and may vary from State to State). The theme this year is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”. Given the great responsibility on teachers during the last few months of being adaptable and being able to support parents and children during the pandemic- we should make a point of celebrating them and acknowledging their contribution. Their work is going to be ever greater in the coming months as they struggle to bring students with interrupted learning back up to their preCOVID-19 standard. Maybe Clubs could think of innovative ways to celebrate teachers in October?
(Anne Allen)

References:
https://en.unesco.org/news/covid-19-unesco-and-partners-education-launch-global-campaign-keep-girls-picture
https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldteachersday
https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/about/events/world-teachers-day