Across the world, armed conflict, instability, drought and famine are situations that have driven many people away from their homes with some ending up in refugee camps, internally displaced camps with little or no education.
As the world marks the 56th commemoration of the International Literacy Day event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on September 8, 2023, studies show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, literacy skills declined worldwide.
It is also a challenge to teach people who have had little or no opportunity to receive proper schooling and thus, do not know how to read and write.
According to UNESCO’s official website, 763 million people worldwide lacked basic literacy skills in 2020. By 2022, it was 771 million.
To combat this trend, Jehovah’s Witnesses offer to teach children and adults reading and writing skills, as part of their Bible education work. In Juba, such a class was conducted in 2023.
Nhial Dhal, an instructor in that class said, “The classes are important because they help the students to learn to read and write.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have long understood the connection between literacy skills and peaceful communities. Starting in the 1940s, they have continuously operated free literacy classes around the
world using the study aids Learn to Read and Write and Apply Yourself to Reading and Writing.
Napini Mut Puot is one of the students in the class. “I came to learn of the class when it was started.
by the Congregation [of Jehovah’s Witnesses]. I like it so much since it has taught me how to read.
In addition to offering literacy classes, Jehovah’s Witnesses have also incorporated such textbooks.
as Benefit from Theocratic Ministry School Education and Apply Yourself to Reading and Teaching
into their weekly meeting programs. Even during the pandemic, when their meetings were held primarily by videoconference, families continued to benefit from this instruction.
“There’s no doubt that reading unifies communities and families,” said Alfred Lokule, National
Spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in South Sudan. “But by far the greatest benefit that comes.
from reading is that it allows us to understand the Bible. If we can’t read it, we are missing out on instruction from the Creator himself.”