Did You Know

Woman's Heartbreaking Sculpture Shows How Illiteracy Affects Millions of Lives

60 Second Docs

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If you're reading the words on this page, you're quite fortunate.

It's estimated that 1 in 10 people around the world are illiterate.

In the U.S. alone, 32 million adults are unable to read and write, and in the UK, the number is at five million.

Among the illiterate population, two-thirds of them are women.

Project Literacy

How tackling illiteracy can help solve many social problems

The thing about illiteracy is that it's not obvious.

At first glance, you can never tell whether someone can read or write, but if you're literate, you would assume that they do.

Fortunately, there are people out there working to eradicate illiteracy, but in order to reach this goal, we must first understand what a world without literacy looks like.

Project Literacy

Paper artist Sam Pierpoint, Project Literacy, and Pearson have teamed up to represent a world where people cannot read and write, and what they put together is heartbreaking.

"It's kind of important for us to try and visualize this," Pierpoint shared on an episode of 60 Second Docs.

The reality is that illiteracy is associated with low life expectancy, lack of employment, gender inequality, and crime.

According to Literacy Project, low literacy skills costs the U.S. at least $225 billion each year.

Project Literacy

"You can really see that they are suffering," Pierpoint added when talking about her sculpted miniature city created to represent a world without this knowledge.

Project Literacy

IlliteraCity plans to change the world for the better

Giving everyone the equal opportunity to learn reading and writing can change society for the better, and that's why Project Literacy and Pearson are working to end illiteracy by 2030.

"The world would be a better place if everybody is given the opportunity to learn to read and write," Pierpoint pointed out.

Project Literacy

Their aim is to move towards a society where everyone can be literate, regardless of their gender or socioeconomic status.

To help the world build more literate futures, visit IlliteraCity and see how you can make a difference.

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.