Government of Canada

Global Affairs Canada

Message from the Minister: International Literacy Day – September 8, 2008

Learning to read unlocks an individual's potential and opens a world of possibilities. The value of literacy in the development of societies and individuals cannot be overstated.

Today, more people around the world can read and write than at any other time in history. However, there is still a long way to go. In today's world, one in five adults is illiterate (two-thirds of them women) and 75 million children are out of school.

Canada is helping people to take charge of their own destinies through learning. Education is one of Canada's signature projects in Afghanistan. This past April, I was proud to open a Literacy Centre in Kandahar City and meet with students who benefited from a Canada-supported project that taught more than 5,000 men and women how to read and write.

It is particularly important to promote literacy amongst girls and women. A well-known fact is that if you teach a woman to read and write, she will in turn teach her children. This will vastly improve their overall education, and also improve their health and nutrition.

On the occasion of International Literacy Day, Canadians can be proud of our support to improve literacy around the world.

The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of International Cooperation