This is As It Is.
Welcome back. I'm Caty Weaver.
On today's show, we talk about two educational programs for children, thousands of miles apart. We also remember an important event in American history that changed the way children are educated in the United States.
Almost 800 million people in the world are illiterate, meaning they cannot read and write. Most are in developing countries and more that 65 percent of them are female.
A former official with the Microsoft company is helping to lower those numbers. John Wood has opened 1,650 schools and 15,000 libraries in some of the world's poorest communities. Avi Arditti has more on the man and his "Room to Read" campaign.
"The thing I learned at Microsoft was that bold goals attract bold people. From the very beginning, I said Room to Read's goal was to reach ten million children around the world in the poorest countries."
That is former Microsoft executive John Wood. In 1998, while he was still with Microsoft, Mr. Wood went on a three week walking trip in Nepal. While there, the businessman met a man who led a school in a mountain village. The man asked him to visit the school.
John Wood said the experience changed his life.
"This headmaster has 450 students at the school, but he didn't have any books. He had a library that was completely empty."
Mr. Wood promised to fill the library.
One year later, he returned to the village with a team of yaks carrying bags filled with books -- 3,000 of them. But that was just the start. John Wood retired from Microsoft, and used some of his wealth to start Room to Read. The not-for-profit organization is based on the belief that world change begins with educated children. Today the group operates in ten countries across Africa and Asia.
"It's amazing what we've accomplished. We've built a world-class organization that's really a thought-leader on solutions for education in the developing world."
That is Erin Ganju, co-founder and chief executive of Room to Read. She says that world literacy is the group's first goal. But she says equality of the sexes is just as important. Ms. Ganju says Room to Read pays for a long term girls' education program to help girls empower themselves.
"It really focuses on not only keeping girls in school longer -- through the end of secondary school – but helps support them holistically. We bring female mentors into the communities that act as role models for the girls and we provide them with life skills workshops after school, where they learn critical skills such as goal-setting, leadership skills, problem-solving and they really become different."
1.illiterate adj. 文盲的；不识字的；没受教育的
I was an illiterate in the old society, but now I can read.
2.bold adj. 大胆的，英勇的；黑体的；厚颜无耻的；险峻的
He was staggered by her bold act.
3.empower vt. 授权，允许；使能够
Congress is empowered to levy taxes.
This lets us see more of the whole picture, look at problems more holistically, and take corrective action sooner.