Statement by Administrator Shah on International Literacy Day

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
USAID Press Office
202-712-4320

Forty four years ago, the United Nations declared September 8th to be International Literacy Day and while there have been substantial improvements since then, we still have a lot of work to do. Basic literacy is vital to an individual's ability to thrive in the modern world. We know that improved literacy leads to greater economic productivity and healthier families.

The United States Agency for International Development is committed to reaching our Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal quality primary education by the year 2015. We are pioneering new tools around the globe to promote more effective and efficient ways for children to learn. At the core of these efforts is the essential principle that learning begets opportunity and the costs of the failure to learn can be devastating.

USAID supports a range of activities aimed at improving access to quality basic education in developing countries, with special emphasis on disadvantaged groups such as women and girls and those living in remote and under served areas.

There are many benefits to a more literate society and this is especially true for women and girls. In most of the developing world, women are directly responsible for the welfare of their families - tending to basic family needs, working on farms and contributing to the family income, managing domestic resources and at least some of the household finances. What resources women have at their disposal and how they use them has a direct impact on household income, health, education, and nutritional outcomes. Empowering women is a key ingredient for sustaining development gains.

This week is Education Week at USAID and we are proud to be a global leader in the fight against illiteracy. Our collective success will help us to build a more stable, and prosperous world.

Last updated: June 13, 2012

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