For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day, reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning. This video from UNESCO South Sudan gives a profoundly touching insight into the struggles of a nation facing staggering illiteracy rates.
The South Sudanese have suffered the deep disruption of war, resulting in closed or destroyed schools and a generation of children left illiterate in its wake. Add to that the challenges of educating nomadic communities, constantly on the move in pursuit of grazing land. Yet there is no doubt that leaders in South Sudan see literacy as key to bringing peace and hope to their nation.
For the illiterate now – many of whom are ex-combatants – job opportunities are extremely limited. As one man remarked of violence still prevalent within South Sudan,
‘A hungry man is an angry man.’
Yet teacher Jacob Oruru and many others like him believe literacy is the answer.
‘Literacy helps to reduce violence… because once you are literate, you know what is good and what is bad.’
All the more so when Scripture becomes available in the mother tongue, as Wycliffe and partner organisations work with local translators worldwide to develop minority languages, creating alphabets, dictionaries, health and educational materials. Ultimately the New Testament or entire Bible becomes available in a way that communities can understand, and in a way that transforms hearts and minds.