The Rotary Minute is a quick one-minute story that features the work and impact of Rotary in our community and world!
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September is back-to-school month and basic education and literacy month! Basic education and literacy is one of The Rotary Foundation’s seven areas of focus. We know that basic education and literacy are essential for reducing poverty, improving health, encouraging community and economic development, and promoting peace. 
Consider these facts:
  • According to the World Health Organization, if all women completed primary education, there would be 66% fewer maternal deaths.
  • A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five.
  • If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, which would be equivalent to a 12% cut in world poverty.
  • 58 million children worldwide are out of school. 
  • Even after four years of primary schooling, as many as 250 million children cannot read and write.
  • 781 million adults are illiterate.
Rotary supports activities and training to improve education for all children and literacy for children and adults. A great example is the Guatemala Literacy Project. In 1997, Joe and Jeff Berninger, brothers from Ohio, were volunteering as English teachers at a Guatemalan school that had no books. The two launched a project to solve that. The day the books arrived, there was a huge celebration, and a Rotarian dentist volunteering nearby heard the noise and asked what was going on. He said, “This would be a perfect project for Rotary.” Joe Berninger, now a member of the Rotary Club of Pathways, Ohio, coordinates the 25-year ongoing project. You can read more about this Guatemala literacy program in the September issue of the Rotary Magazine.

Since 1997, the Rotary Foundation has helped fund literacy projects around the world with 48 grants totaling $6.5 million. Nearly 800 clubs in 90 districts have also participated in literacy projects, making it one of the largest grassroots, multi-club, multidistrict projects in Rotary. 
Nobel Prize winner and girl’s education activist Malala Yousafzai credits Rotary for giving her school the books she read as a child that she said changed her life.  

So remember, Basic Education and Literacy is one of the 7 areas of Focus for Rotary, and September is our month to focus on this great global need!  And that is today’s Rotary Minute!