Literacy is a Bridge

Keith shares his essay at the Seeds for Change Conference.

An essay by Keith Mathews, 13 years old in answer to the question: What’s the one thing you could/would do to change your school, community, or the world.

A community feels more alive when the people who live there love it enough to help improve it. I strongly feel I am one of those people that love my community enough to help it.

This essay expresses one thing that I would do to make a change in my school and community: To improve literacy levels.

Zambia has very low literacy levels and knowing this fact I would like to play a role in my country by doing one thing to make a change. I would like to improve the literacy levels in Zambia by starting with my school and then move onto my community. Illiteracy is like a disease and my aim is to take a step that will begin with me to cure it.

It is saddening to see parents failing to attend their children’s school meetings or even assist them with their homework because they cannot read and write. Furthermore, many fail to apply for jobs because they feel embarrassed by their situations.

At my school, everybody loves the babies and this is where literacy begins. I would encourage my class, the grade eights, to read story books to the babies every Friday. This way the babies would be interested in reading books. We would also teach the babies three words every week so that by the end of the month they would have learnt twelve new words. I believe this would be a good start.

With this idea in mind, I would then take it to my community and start with the children in the neighbourhood. In future I wish to open literacy centres to help illiterate adults in my community. However, this idea would need funding. I would allow well-wishers to donate books and any useful materials to my centre. I would later expand my services to other communities by working with volunteers who share my passion.

In conclusion, I believe improving literacy levels may help eradicate poverty and improve people’s lives. Solving the problem of literacy will in turn help people choose the right leaders to represent them.

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