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U.S., Lions Clubs Will Promote Literacy Around the World
June 28, 2012

June 27, 2012

Men marching with Korean flags
Members of Lions Club International from South Korea carry their country’s flag as they walk in a parade at the group’s 2003 annual convention, held in Denver.

At the 95th annual Lions Clubs International Convention in Busan, South Korea, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Lions Clubs International (LCI) launched a new partnership June 26 aimed at promoting literacy around the world.

“USAID and Lions Clubs International share the belief that literacy is critical to the future of all children, and that literate children contribute to their society’s stability, economy, health and growth,” said Eric G. Postel, USAID assistant administrator for economic growth, education and environment, in a USAID news release the same day.

“This partnership is a critical way to leverage both organizations’ resources to this ambitious goal,” Postel said.

The partnership will do the following:

• Mobilize Lions Club members to read to primary school children and to raise awareness about the critical nature of improving early-grade reading.

• Recognize teacher excellence in promoting early-grade reading through awards for schools, teachers, students and communities and other incentives.

• Promote reading among young children with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired.

• Assist USAID in reaching its target of improving the literacy of 100 million children in developing nations by 2015.

USAID’s Postel and Wayne A. Madden, the 2012–13 international president of Lions Clubs International, signed a memorandum of understanding setting a framework for joint activities at the international convention’s final plenary session, attended by more than 20,000 Lions members from around the world.

USAID’s education strategy is based on the premise that education is foundational to human development and critical to broad-based economic growth and poverty reduction. A key goal of the strategy is to improve reading for children in primary grades.

Since early-grade reading competency is essential to success in later grades, children who do not learn to read at an early age will likely make limited educational progress throughout their lives, the strategy asserts. They will have limited economic and developmental opportunities as a result.

“The ability to contribute to global literacy while continuing to support those with vision and other impairments helps bring a quality of life and future earning potential to many that is life-changing,” said LCI’s Madden.

Founded in 1917, Lions Clubs International has 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members, making it the world’s largest service club organization. LCI includes active men and women volunteers (“Lions”) in more than 200 countries and geographic areas.

Lions Club members are best known for fighting blindness but also volunteer for many different kinds of community projects and often support local children and schools through scholarships, recreation and mentoring.

For more information about USAID, visit USAID’s website. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit LCI’s website.