CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
— Malala Yousafzai
Education is a human right, but one that’s impossible to embrace without literacy. For this, the world comes together every year on September 8th to celebrate International Literacy Day. Literacy is fundamental to providing individuals with relevant knowledge, skills, and competencies, transforming education, and shaping more sustainable and peaceful societies.
Approximately 496 million women worldwide cannot read and write – making up 2/3 of the illiterate population. This is especially true in Indigenous communities. Barriers such as geographic isolation, cultural differences, and economic hardships have prevented countless Indigenous girls from attending school. This lack of access perpetuates poverty cycles and threatens the preservation of their rich cultural heritage.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS – PROJECT IMPULSO
The advent of COVID-19 has further impacted girls’ literacy development and has exacerbated the challenges girls in rural Guatemala already face.
For this, MAIA designed Project Impulso. After elementary school and before entering the Impact School, Girl Pioneers complete a yearlong full-time academic preparatory program to reinforce key areas like English, technology, math, reading and language arts, vocal empowerment, and mentorship. In 2023, 36 girls entered Project Impulso.
PRESERVING CULTURAL HERITAGE
At MAIA, we believe in the importance of cultural identity, and education is a tool for preserving and celebrating the rich heritage of Indigenous communities. By integrating the Maya Kaqchikel language and traditional knowledge into the curriculum, we ensure that Girl Pioneers grow up with a strong sense of self and an appreciation for their cultural roots.
EVIDENCE FROM THE MAIA IMPACT SCHOOL
The long-term impacts of investing in girls’ education and literacy are staggering. They gain the skills and knowledge to advocate for their rights, contribute to their communities, and access better economic opportunities. Literacy also gives girls more control over their own futures – including when, whether, and whom they marry.