Advocating for literacy in the international development field

I  have some Google alerts for several different searches that sometimes uncover content that I would otherwise never have known about.  My last blog post about the distance education plan for Iraq is an example of something that came in through the alert.  Another one that came in and it got me to thinking about the role literacy, education, and library advocates can play in the international development field.  I have found myself in several conversations with people working in international development where they pulled out the trusty Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when discussing where funding should go toward community development programs.

Perhaps because my advocacy skills, especially the art of personal persuasion,  are still “under development”, I was never able to fully explain why it was such a  “no-brainer” that for long-term, sustainable development, literacy, education, access to information (including government, historical records, legal, etc.), access to the ideas of others, and access to computers were integral components.  I was also never able to convincingly explain that libraries had been doing this already, and they should continue to do it in the future.  My last post linked to a paper on distance education in Iraq to me revealed that despite the huge challenges regions that are suffering conflict or extreme poverty face,  education is still seen as a solution to those problems.

So, I am now saying the things I wish I had said to the international development experts I’ve met (all of whom are literate, have at least one advanced degree, have access to a computer, and write papers on economic development using resources that their local libraries collect).   I, and my library and education colleagues, need to learn, as this blogger wrote, how to speak louder and with more persuasiveness.


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