Today marks the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day. UNESCO has chosen to celebrate it under the banner "Reading the Past, Writing the Future."
In honor of this theme, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I once again call attention to the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 - also known as the Cuban Literacy Brigades. Academic researchers and writers, popular reference sites like Wikipedia and filmmakers all have documented the phenomenal success of raising the literacy rates of Cuban citizens in rural and urban communities in just one year.
The anthropological analyses of this campaign are some of the most interesting as they discuss, in detail, the role culture can and must play in any effort of this scale and importance.
In the United States of America, literacy is a basic building block for our civil society, democratic tradition, economy, public health and national security.
Our next U.S. President must take the matter of literacy seriously and be committed to our own cultural revolution to bring our country's literacy levels to unprecedented levels. I would submit that our literacy levels in the United States have never been what they need to be.