What is illiteracy?
Well, the basic meaning of the word is “the inability to read and write” but in order to answer this question more appropriately and in depth we’d have to look at our world today. Despite the advancement of civilization we battle many issues that threaten our existence. Some of these are; world hunger, racism, terrorism, gender inequality, global warming, ozone depletion. What is the one point of convergence of all these issues? Is it the lack of funding? Why is there a lack of funding? Well, absence of determination. Why is there less determination? Insufficient awareness of the problem. Here the key word is awareness and awareness is something developed through education and knowledge.
Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. In all honesty, I don’t know if education can change the world but let’s flip the coin to see the other side and one thing is as certain as the sun, illiteracy can destroy the world. It’s in human nature to fear or hate something beyond its understanding and the combination of the two breeds violence and violence is destruction. Illiteracy shackles an individual’s vision and darkens their outlook of the world. Let’s access an example here. A poor boy whose never seen a classroom and has had hammered into is head that he’s at the bottom of the food chain. Gets humiliated and has no sense whatsoever of his rights or those of others. How can we expect this boy to grow up and be a responsible citizen? He is fighting for the most basic human needs such as food, shelter and clothing how do we expect him be civil when all he has experienced in his life is brutality of poverty. And the real trouble begins when they don’t get supplied with these needs, which is the case most times. This gives birth to greed and envy and desperation which drives these people to commit nonsensical acts, acts of crime. There is no feeling of remorse or regret as they’ve never been taught the importance of human life. Flip side, this very child was educated, taught some skill in exchange of which he could earn a respectful living. I doubt he’d resort to any criminal way unless he mentally underdeveloped.
I believe all the problems faced by our world today boil down to the fact that illiteracy is prevalent. Especially coming from a country like Pakistan and experiencing firsthand the adverse effects of illiteracy gives me an incentive to write and speak up about this issue. A little education can help a child realize his/her potential and capabilities. Knowledge and understanding of various topics allows the child to think and learn the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. Teach them how to read and write and then give them a history book and let them see for themselves what hatred and violence and ever brought to the world apart from devastation. Let them learn that the amount of pigment in one’s skin doesn’t prove anything about him/her. Let them learn that your gender doesn’t define the limit of your capabilities. Teach them that they are whatever they choose to be. Give them knowledge and let them soar.