Our Foundation in support of literacy worldwide

Kalyan-Banerjee-83x100

by Kalyan Banerjee,Trustee Chair 2016 – 17

A few months ago, I read a story in this magazine about a man named Carl Sanders, a member of the Rotary Club of Kenosha, Wis. Sanders had developed a successful painting business despite the fact that he could not read – a shameful secret that he struggled to keep to himself.

This story surprised me a little. I tend to think of illiteracy as a problem that mainly afflicts people in poor countries, not U.S. Rotarians.

But Sanders’ situation is not so uncommon. Even in a wealthy country like the United States, millions of people lack basic reading skills.

Sanders’ story had a happy ending. He shared his secret with a fellow Rotarian, who steered him to a local literacy program and encouraged him as he tackled his reading lessons.

Mothers-of-Intention-LiteraOur Rotary Foundation wants to create more such happy endings, and there is no shortage of people who need them.

Today, more than 750 million adults are functionally illiterate globally. In 2015-16, our Foundation awarded 146 global grants totaling $8.3 million to support basic education and literacy projects worldwide. These projects vary considerably – from providing computers and school supplies in Ghana to sponsoring an after-school homework program in the U.S. to developing a literacy and mentoring program for Roma girls in Bosnia, a project that addresses the gender imbalance that exists in many parts of the world.

In my country, Rotary has been on a literacy mission for the past few years. India has a population of 1.2 billion and is about 75 percent literate. Illiteracy occurs mainly in rural India, where most people live. So Rotary in India joined hands with the government to eliminate illiteracy, especially among women, because literate women raise literate families, ensuring a better future for all. Indeed, the numbers are staggering, and when it is done, the impact could be incredible.

As we observe Basic Education and Literacy Month in September, let’s think about the millions of people whose chances for success remain blocked by illiteracy. Our Foundation is helping many of them, but with Rotarian support and involvement, we can do so much more.

Source: Rotary International

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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