BRYAN, TX — Imagine living in a world where people cannot read or write. It seems almost unimaginable, but it’s true. Even in this day and age, there are people who cannot read or write.
International Literacy Day is so important and introduces us to a Brazos Valley man whose world opened up once he learned how to read.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there are more than 700 million people globally who can't read or write, even at a basic level.
Through International Literacy Day, reading is introduced to many who then begin to see their life change with the turn of a page.
Since 1967, International Literacy Day has been raising awareness regarding literacy problems. Those who've been helped are no longer being left behind.
"I can say to somebody just keep going forward.. don't give up," Robert Ellison, a BCS Community Education Center student said.
Encouraging words from a man who didn't give up on his dream of learning how to read.
"If a man don't have a dream, he stops dreaming, but if he has a dream, he is going to achieve this dream," Ellison added.
With the help of his family, Ellison found his way to the BCS Community Education Center in Bryan, where people like Becky Collet help people learn to read.
"It opens doors and opens up more opportunities. Education opens up people's worlds," Collet said.
Ellison says reading has opened up his world. Now he is able to answer the simplest questions.
"Grandfather, what's this? What's this? It’s a great excitement for me to be able to read the book," Ellison said in relation to reading with his grandchildren.
Besides enhancing his quality time with his grandchildren, Ellison says being able to read has been life-altering. He says it can be for others as well.
"I just want to encourage someone, don't give up on yourself. You will never know unless you try," Ellison said.
Collet says seeing a student improve and succeed is definitely worth celebrating.
"We will say there is nothing better than a GED graduation or a GED celebration where we come together and we celebrate our students' success," Collet added.
"It really drives me to keep going and to keep pushing... because I have a lot more to learn," Ellison said.
To celebrate the importance of reading, a reading holiday has been declared in the Brazos Valley. Educators say you can join in on the celebration by reading your favorite book or donating one.
The BCS Community Education Center offers free virtual English and Spanish GED classes. Those classes will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings September 15t through September 19. The classes are free, but students are required to buy a GED manual for the class.