More than 500,000 adults attend ‘literacy courses’
Önder Öndeş/Gülseven Özkan- ANKARA
In February, a campaign dubbed “Mobilization for Literacy” was launched to teach adults how to read and write. Since its launch, 504,985 women and 59,466 male have attended the program in over the past eight months.
According to data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK), there were 2.3 million illiterate adults in the country in 2017. This figure includes 1,974,000 women and 356,000 males. That means illiterate women account for 85 percent of the total number.
UNESCO notes the number of literates in the world has increased significantly over the past five decades, but 750 million people still do not know how to read or write. According to the United Nations body, two-thirds of all those illiterates are women. Some 59 percent of those illiterate women are young females.
Separate data from the TÜİK also showed that more than 3.1 million people did not graduate from elementary school even though they are literate. There are thousands of children who are officially enrolled in a school but could not attend classes because they have to work in the streets, in farm fields or textile shops.
Never too late
Here are the stories of women who are mothers and grandmothers who have taken part in the classes launched under the “Mobilization of Literacy” campaign.
Nezaket Yağmur, 64, lives in the western district of Düzce and has been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for four years. Her health conditions have deteriorated in the past two years, making her bedridden. However, officials sent to her home by the district national education directorate have taught her how to read and write. Yağmur has become literate within the period of a couple of months.
“I heard about the literacy campaign on TV. I told my husband I wanted to benefit from it. My teacher Vildan helped me a lot. I have had to endure problems stemming from illiteracy throughout my life. I cannot use my hands, which is why I cannot write, but now I can read newspapers,” Yağmur said.
Radıgan Uzunoğlu, 81, who lives in Istanbul, said she could not go to school because she had to move to the Black Sea region. When she returned back to Istanbul at the age of 13, she was too ashamed to go to school. Then she was married and raised four children.
“I am so happy that I can read and write now. Learning knows no age limit,” Uzunoğlu said. “It was not too difficult for me to learn how to write and read. There is nothing to feel embarrassed about starting this at a later age. It is never too late,” she added.