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  • Leyla Svay

The bridging power of literacy

By Leyla Svay

When I reflect on literacy and education, the word that immediately comes to mind is "empowerment." In life, we often face circumstances beyond our control. Yet, I would argue that there are two pivotal factors that can significantly ease these life uncertainties: education and literacy. Across generations, societies have evolved to foster greater equality among marginalized groups, but as we all know, the system is not perfect. Regardless of differences in socioeconomic status, race, gender, or other aspects, what these factors have in common is that they all lie beyond our control. 

Literacy and education possess transformative power, capable of bridging societal divides and opening doors of opportunity for children of all backgrounds. By imparting the tools of reading, writing, and critical thinking, education enables young minds to envision futures beyond predetermined limitations set by society. It equips them with the confidence to challenge stereotypes and pursue aspirations that transcend socioeconomic barriers, racial biases, and gender expectations.

Through literacy, children can dream expansively, envisioning themselves as architects of their destinies, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. Education not only empowers individuals to navigate life's uncertainties but also cultivates a more equitable and inclusive society where everyone has the chance to thrive and contribute their gifts to the world in a meaningful way. 

Words that resonate deeply with me are those my mother would say to me as a child, which continue to guide me as a young woman of color today: "Take your education seriously because it is one thing that no one can ever take away from you." These words underscore the enduring value of knowledge and literacy as empowering forces that transcend circumstance, enabling individuals to shape their own futures—a belief beautifully echoed in Frederick Douglass's timeless assertion that "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."


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