Today is International Literacy Day so I’m commenting on literacy in Bolivia where I will be volunteering for 3 months in April 2016. In Bolivia literacy rates have improved significantly during the last 20 years but I am still confused by literacy statistics that say the rate of literacy is 97% but at the same time the statistics tell me that nearly 300,000 children of primary school age are not enrolled in school. UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 620,000 working children in Bolivia. Less than 2-in-5 of these children will continue with their education beyond primary level, and over 4% of them will not go to school.
In the city of Sucre Biblioworks are helping working children through their support of INTI. This organisation supports working children to continue their schooling. I find this an interesting concept – to support the working children rather than trying to ban all employment of children. During the last trip I had to Bolivia I was approached in the central city plaza in Sucre by a child who offered me a copy of the INTI magazine to buy. I remember I had what often happens when being approached by a child selling something. The first thought is that the child is begging and initially I declined to buy the magazine. But then when I had a closer look at what they were selling and later read the magazine I understood the philosophy of supporting these children rather than condemning them. As I have understood more about how INTI works I think it is a very caring and compassionate approach to what is a large problem. How to encourage and support these working children and provide some hope for their futures through ensuring they obtain some education.
Checkout the INTI magazine available online at http://inti-revista.org/ it’s very interesting reading – particularly the children’s own stories about their lives.