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Literacy Rates in Africa: What You Can Do to Help

Written by Isabella Boston

Language is developing in a baby's brain before he or she can even talk; the more words a child hears, the more they will learn. Not only does this improve a child's vocabulary, but it can also lead to more advanced language skills, such as, how to use words effectively and how to structure sentences properly.

Reading enhances a child's imagination, improves their concentration, and exercises the brain. Children who are read to also perform better in school and score higher on tests.

Unfortunately, many children live in places where books are unavailable to them.

According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the literacy rate for sub-Saharan Africa was 65% in 2019. This means that one third of the population were unable to read and write over the age of 15; in 1984 the literacy rate was 49%.

UNESCO describes a literate individual as "someone who can read and write a short, simple statement about their life." Although literacy rates have improved in sub-Saharan Africa over the years, they are still the lowest of any region. One of the greatest obstacles in increasing literacy, especially in rural areas, is the lack of books.

In Uganda, poverty is the main cause in which illiteracy rises each day. For many generations, Ugandans were unable to go to school due to the lack of funding; families are oftentimes faced with the painful decision of feeding their household or paying for a child's school tuition.

Child violence is also a cause for the increase of illiteracy in Uganda. Some children, who were attending school, ran away from homes where they were being mistreated. In addition, violence in the schools themselves prevent children from attending; students are oftentimes punished with beatings for making simple mistakes. This leaves many children feeling resentful of school and some end up in child labor. Girls are at a higher risk for illiteracy than boys; males have a literacy rate of 82.66% while the female rate is 70.84%. Many young girls join marriages early and end up pregnant because they are unable to receive access to a proper education.

No child should be denied the human right to a decent education and the luxury of a book. As Nelson Mandela once said, "The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow."

How can you help?

You can donate to the Borgen project (, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to ending world poverty and hunger.

Your donation can provide books, school supplies, qualified teachers, and safe facilities for the children of Uganda. Simply by having books, a Ugandan family can read to their children and provide them with a better hope for tomorrow.

Together we can make a difference and raise literacy in Uganda.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. ~ Mother Teresa.

Author Bio

Isabella Boston

Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the Founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She has several years of experience in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies. She is the author of the romantic and rare memoir, Passion of Flames. Isabella is currently working to spread awareness on the dangers and inhumanity of human sex trafficking. She has special interests in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, and natural healing as it pertains the body, mind and soul. When Isabella is not writing, she enjoys playing the violin, learning new languages (currently Italian), and reading books of substance.


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