Education is the transmission of knowledge, skills and character traits. Education helps to unlock a world of opportunities and fosters individual growth. With the developments and complexities of the 21st century, it becomes increasingly crucial to focus on promoting education among young children. Unfortunately, the global landscape reveals alarming statistics regarding the levels of illiteracy among young children, particularly in Africa.

According to UNESCO, it is stated that despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women. It was also estimated that 258 million children and youth were out of school in 2018, with nearly 60 million of them residing in sub-Saharan Africa.

This staggering figure highlights the urgent need for concerted efforts to ensure that every child has access to quality education. Illiteracy among young children not only limits their personal development but also hampers the socio-economic progress of nations.

Investing in early education has a profound impact on a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Studies consistently show that children who receive quality early education are more likely to excel academically, develop essential life skills, and contribute positively to society. Early education sets the foundation for a lifetime of learning and equips children with the tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex world.

Although progress has been made in promoting gender equality in education, significant disparities persist globally. Gender disparity in education means inequality in access to education on the basis of gender. According to statistics, it is established that in some nations, males have a higher enrollment rate, while females face great barriers to accessing education. These disparities arise as a result of some factors that include socioeconomic factors, cultural and religious factors, policy and institutional factors among others.

Gender disparity in education has far reaching consequences for individuals, communities, and societies. It hinders social and economic development, perpetuates inequality and limits individuals’ opportunities.

The world is now also faced with a global issue of conflict in different areas. According to the United Nations, it is established that over 400 million children live in conflict zones. This means that millions of children have had their access to education halted. Schools and educational facilities are often destroyed, looted or occupied during conflict leaving children with nowhere to turn for education.

There is need for more effort to address this issue. Governments play a crucial role in addressing the issue of illiteracy among young children. By prioritizing education in national budgets, implementing policies that promote inclusivity, and investing in teacher training, governments can make significant strides in improving access to quality education.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based initiatives are instrumental in reaching children in remote areas and providing them with educational opportunities. These organizations often work closely with local communities to understand their unique challenges and tailor interventions accordingly.

At a personal level, I have volunteered with the “I read I innovate initiative” in Uganda which creates a reading culture among children in rural areas. Many initiatives need to come up to help young children adopt a reading culture and get access to education in rural areas and areas affected by conflict.

Addressing the global challenge of illiteracy among young children requires collaborative efforts. International organizations, donor agencies, and developed nations can contribute by providing financial support, sharing best practices, and fostering partnerships to ensure a holistic approach to education.

Promoting education among young children is a shared responsibility that requires a collective effort from governments, NGOs, communities, and the international community. By addressing the root causes of illiteracy, investing in early education, and fostering inclusivity, we can empower the next generation with the tools they need to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.