Today, September 8, is the United Nations’ International Literacy Day which this year focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.

“The recent COVID-19 crisis have been a stark reminder of  the existing gap between policy discourse and reality: a gap that already existed in the pre-COVID-19 era and negatively affects the learning of youth and adults, who have no or low literacy skills, and therefore, tend to face multiple disadvantages,” states the UN.

At Bread and Water for Africa®, for more than 20 years — long before the current coronavirus pandemic which is creating great educational hardships for children and youth throughout Sub-Saharan Africa — thanks to our supporters we have been providing educational opportunities for thousands of students, specifically in the area of literacy the foundation of learning, by constructing schools and classroom additions, as well as paying school fees for students who would otherwise have no opportunity for an education.

Over the years and decades, some 15,000 students have been able to attend schools we have constructed, such as the Kipkeino Primary School and the Kebeneti Secondary School in Kenya, as well as schools in Sierra Leone, and had their school fees paid in the knowledge that education is the key to their success in the future and a life out of dire poverty.

In addition, nearly 200,000 students in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and elsewhere have benefited from the tens of thousands of school and text books we have shipped to the libraries of dozens of schools and universities for use by students and faculty members since 2014.

Since the coronavirus began in March forcing countless schools throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, we have continued our mission of working with our partners in countries including Cameroon, Chad ,Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe to ensure children are able to continue their educations despite the massive challenges they face due to a lack of resources, persistent nationwide blackouts and no available internet service which creates not just a digital divide — but a digital chasm — that must be overcome.

Today, on International Literacy Day, we thank all of our supporters who made what we do possible, and continue to help us and our partners in our ongoing mission of educating children throughout the African continent regardless of the devastating pandemic.