By the Basic Education & Literacy Rotary Action Group (BELRAG)
Did you know that 776 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate? That’s 17 percent of the world’s population! As we celebrate International Literacy Day (8 September), let’s take a look at the powerful efforts Rotary and Rotaract clubs are making to promote education and literacy, how BELRAG (the Rotary Action Group on Basic Education & Literacy) supports them in their efforts to sustainably improve literacy in communities around the world, and how you can be a part of this transformative mission.
What Rotary does to promote literacy
Globally, Rotary and Rotaract clubs and districts are engaged in a wide range of impactful projects that help students thrive around the world. They range from teacher training, development of educational materials in a collaborative model with local schools and education authorities, ensuring that preschoolers have access to books in their homes, and showing parents how to engage children in literary discussions as they read with their children. Projects focusing on literacy, technology, math, and play-based learning in early years classrooms have been developed to support our youngest learners.
Many programs focus on girls’ education, preparing them to be able to contribute financially to their families’ income, and empowering them to be leaders in their families and communities. Innovative community projects that are based on significant community needs have also been planned.
Rotarians and Rotaractors have developed projects that provide access to quality education with the goal of improving the lives of students. In turn, these projects increase the growth and stability of families and communities.
BELRAG Literacy Month Awards
“BELRAG” stands for “Basic Education & Literacy Rotary Action Group”. We are a network of Rotarians and Rotaractors throughout the world working in partnership with clubs and districts on literacy projects of mutual concern. We have a special interest in:
- Alleviating illiteracy
- Enhancing literacy teaching and learning globally
- Helping to provide materials and equipment for literacy education at different levels.
Each year BELRAG runs an Awards Programme. During September we review submissions from clubs who have completed educational projects. Award guidelines are available, including a scoring rubric that demonstrates what is considered to be a strong project and how projects will be judged. Visit our website for more information. The four project awardees (three for Rotary clubs and one for a Rotaract club) will be profiled in the BELRAG newsletter and the winning clubs will each receive a US$500 donation for future education and literacy projects.
There are a wide variety of projects in which Rotary and Rotaract members are involved that have received a BELRAG award. These local community programs have a great impact, though may not meet the requirements for a global grant. Examples include projects that ensure children can attend a safe school with well-equipped classrooms and a water source for hand washing and toileting. Other projects focus on safe routes to school. These types of projects are vital to every basic education system.
September is designated as Rotary’s Basic Education and Literacy Month. This is an opportunity for Rotarians and Rotaractors to raise awareness of this need and take action by:
- Identifying needs in your area and/or beyond where Rotary support can contribute or create meaningful partnerships with local education authorities. These may be to support children, adults, or refugees.
- Launching new projects locally and internationally.
- Creating a Basic Education and Literacy team with Rotarians, Rotaractors, and educators. Partnerships are vital.
- Sharing Basic Education and Literacy projects with your community and your fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors.
- Reaching out to the network of Rotarians and Rotaractors in BELRAG for support on education and literacy grants and/or projects.
- Encouraging Rotarians, Rotaractors, clubs, districts, and others in your community interested in improving Basic Education and Literacy to join BELRAG.
Your club may consider providing education resources for children residing in countries at war or displaced by conflict, drought, floods, fires, or political unrest. Education for children in these environments is complex and comes with many challenges but is a great area of need in much of our world. Children in every community have also endured challenges resulting from schools being shut down during COVID. Rotary supports children and adults around the world by developing projects that address mental health challenges, enabling children to be emotionally available to access learning. Take action now to support Basic Education and Literacy! For more ideas and to join Rotarians and Rotaractors committed to supporting education, contact BELRAG.org.