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  • Corné Morrison

The Power of Literacy

The power of literacy


Meaning the ability to read and write

In the words of Fmr United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.

There’s a lot that can be said about the power of literacy, and in this modern day of ours, literacy is taken for granted by most of us. However, there are large parts of the world where literacy is still not a given. A recently updated statistic about world illiteracy revealed that an estimated ‘17% of the world population remains illiterate.’’* In Ghana, the statistic reflects a 23.4% illiteracy rate** among adults (15yrs+), which ranks them 135th in a ranking between 152 countries.

What is rather significant is the progress that’s been made in Ghana over the last 15 years regarding literacy. From 2000 to 2015 the literacy rates increased from 57.9% to 76.6%.***

That’s one of the reasons organizations like Pen to Paper Ghana is so important in eradicating illiteracy because every bit counts!

Taking a closer look at the benefits of literacy

There are mainly 2 critical categories in which the benefits of literacy can be divided. These would include economic development as well as individual and community well-being. While researching this article was very interesting, I certainly didn't expect the profound impact that basic literacy has on a person and communities life. I certainly was one of those people taking my literacy and education for granted. However just taking a look at the basics, makes you realise how blessed we really are in most developed countries.

For the individual or parent, literacy holds the benefit of increased confidence and self-esteem giving them hope and more opportunities in life. Just imagine yourself as a parent of a child going to school or for that matter literacy classes. How difficult is it for an illiterate parent to get involved in their children's education? How do they interact confidently with their children’s teachers? Literacy is so important, not only for the youth but also for adults, so they are better equipped to help their children and also communicate with their teachers. This has a tremendously positive effect if we acknowledge for one second how important parent co-operation is for maintaining successful results with learners.

I for one absolutely love reading! I have always found it a magnificent way of ‘seeing’ the world through the writer’s eyes. I have read thousands of books. How different and empty would my life as a child (from an abusive home) have been without the magic and escape I found in reading? How much more perspective did I gain on life through reading? To me a life without the ability to read is unimaginable!

Well, what about the benefits on the health front? Just imagine what it means for people to be able to communicate effectively with medical caregivers. It’s mind-boggling when you realise how precious literacy is in the prevention and treatment of health problems. Being able to provide preventative information to a community that can actually read and understand it, makes a radical difference when we are looking at illness and disease prevention, treatment and lowering birth rates. All as a result of increased education!

Just imagine having a sick child, the most dreaded for every mom is a baby with fever… You have a bottle of medicine but you can’t read the label or instructions! So either you guess the amount, which could be ‘ok’ if you had previous experience, or you either run the risk of over-dosing your baby or giving too little for the medicine to actually help. That’s scary stuff!!

Bringing it together

I don’t know about you dear Reader, but I agree with Jen Selinsky, “Literacy is one of the greatest gifts”**** we can give to someone. No one needs to face this problem alone, we can all make a difference with even the smallest contributions we make. I for one have decided to use every opportunity to offer my help in this area. Just raising awareness for the selfless, uplifting work organizations like Pen to Paper Ghana does, can be the empowering factor that makes a difference in the lives of so many Ghanaians, other countries in Africa and around the world, struggling and slowly but surely succeeding to overcome similar challenges.


* Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2018) - "Literacy". Published online at Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]


About the writer - Corné Morrison

I am very excited to announce that I'll be the guest blogger and new voice raising awareness for the amazing work done by Pen to Paper Ghana.

As a mum myself, lover of books, everything digital and readable - the work this organisation does is something close to my heart. I have a passion for people, especially single or divorced women raising their children alone. I'm a part-time Theology student (super excited about that)! I also started my own online business this year (after being in the business arena for more than 14 years) so I could be more flexible during the day for my family and have time for the special projects (like this one) that capture my heart. The hashtag that describes my life mission best is #makeadifference. My best quality - must be my sense of humour!!

I really look forward to getting to know all the readers! Please let us know what you think and if you've got any inspiring stories you would like to share, make sure to send us a comment or email. We'd love to hear from you!!

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