Throughout the world, 757 million people ages 15 and above are unable to complete a job application, comprehend a bus schedule, or read a magazine article. Global illiteracy remains a reality—but not for long. Here’s why.
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Let’s take a glimpse into the school of the future: Class sizes are small, enabling teachers to work more closely with each student. Every school uses the same quality of books, manuals and other scholastic material, due to equitable funding.
Educators and staff are friendly and approachable, diligent to set the right example and free of “progressive” sociopolitical agendas. Teachers are well educated, highly qualified and earn comfortable salaries. All desire their students to succeed. All use the most effective teaching methods, leaving no place for confusion in the scholastic curriculum.
Students peaceably stroll through the hallways without fear of intimidation or assault from fellow classmates.
The school grounds are clean, free of graffiti and other markings of disfigurement.
A safe, clean, uplifting environment where students can retain their innocence. Where educators are highly and personally motivated. Where young minds are ready and willing to learn and are encouraged daily to excel. Where illiteracy is extinct.
An impossible scenario? An elusive dream of utopia? No, this is a reality that can and will come to pass—though not by the governments and institutions of men.
For millennia, the ability to read and write was generally limited to rulers and the wealthy, as well as scholars and religious leaders. Under the Greek and Roman empires, literacy among the masses became more prevalent.
In Europe, major catalysts of literacy were the debut of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, which stressed the importance of reading the Bible.
In the past 100 years or so, Western nations have made schooling compulsory, serving to reduce man’s illiteracy rate even further. Coinciding with this, the Industrial Revolution, which brought an ability to inexpensively mass produce goods, made books, pens and other scholastic material affordable.
Revolutionary political movements during the past 200 years targeted illiteracy as an enemy. Even totalitarian communist regimes sought to bring reading and writing to the people—though in a way that brutally conditioned and controlled the masses.
Nonetheless, oppressive societies throughout history have suppressed education from being given to the common people. The thought of commoners and others at the bottom rung of society understanding how to read and write was viewed as a threat to the balance of power. Illiteracy made it much easier to control the people.The modern world has made great gains in reducing illiteracy: From 1970 to 2000-2004, the adult literacy rate rose from 75% to 88%; today, 82% of those ages 15 and above are literate.
In 2005, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published the EFA Global Monitoring Report, which presented the following global snapshot for 2000-2004:
Approximately 18% of the world’s adult population is illiterate.
While illiteracy rates since 1990 have fallen in most regions, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States rose 9.8% and 12.6%, respectively.
In nations where severe poverty is widespread, so is illiteracy.
More than two-thirds of all illiterate adults are in eight countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Egypt.
75% of the world’s adult illiterate population lives in only 12 nations.
In addition to those who are illiterate, there are also the “functionally illiterate,” who can read and write simple messages in their own language, but are unable to read, write and use basic math skills in everyday situations. The functionally illiterate cannot fill out employment applications; follow written instructions; read news articles; interpret a bus or subway schedule; or consult a dictionary.
Studies indicate illiteracy is tied to poverty and crime, all of which are perpetuated from generation to generation.
Generally, worldwide literacy rates are progressing, even for many living in the poorest of nations. However, illiteracy and substandard education will continue to exist as long as young minds remain prisoners in a scholastic environment of inept and/or powerless educators, sociopolitical agendas, negligent parents, poor funding, illegal drugs and on-campus violence.
Yet the future scenario described at the beginning of this article will one day become reality for all. It will be established by a new, world-ruling system—a supergovernment—led by the greatest Educator, foretold millennia ago in Scripture.
Take note: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6-7).
This is a prophecy of Jesus Christ returning to establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. Quoting this might seem laughable to secular minds. Yet 6,000 years of history—monarchies, dictatorships, communist systems, republics, democracies—proves that human beings are incapable of ruling themselves. Man does not know how to bring about the universal peace, prosperity and personal security all long for. All governments of men, even those that started with noble intentions, eventually degenerate into corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy and moral compromise.
But the kingdom of God is different. It is the divine government of God administered by the Family of God—whose members have rejected over the course of a lifetime the pulls and temptations of this world and replaced carnal nature with holy, righteous, godly character. In addition to being kings and judges under Christ’s rule, they will also be teachers.
Notice: “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: you shall weep no more: He will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers: And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left” (Isa. 30:19-21).
Human beings do not understand that “the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Every person has his own idea of right and wrong, good and evil—and no two people totally agree. Even worse, the laws, ethics, morals and rules of conduct people generally agree upon degenerate from generation to generation. What was liberal 40 or 50 years ago is now viewed as over-the-top right-wing. Man needs guidance from his Maker, or else civilization devolves into a society in which “every man does that which is right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Like the world today.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains [large governments], and it shall be exalted above the hills [small governments]; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2).
One of the many things the returning Christ will teach is the way to peace: “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (vs. 3).
Notice verse 2 again: “for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” God’s Word—the Bible—is an “instruction manual” for learning how to live, how to successfully interact with God and neighbor. This can only happen if people can read the Bible. Obviously, God will make certain that all peoples will know how to read and write.
The book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View! offers a glimpse into man’s future under the kingdom of God:
“Life is a process of education—learning to develop character by obedience to God’s laws, which in turn yields every good, fulfilling and favorable result. Education in the world tomorrow will explain how to live—and how to learn a productive trade. Of course, all academic subjects, including wholesome art and music, will produce well-rounded people. Life will become invigorating, exciting and fulfilling.”
“Re-educating the world will be a truly monumental task. The difficult job of teaching people to learn can only be done if teachers are un-handcuffed and allowed to bring proper discipline and order to schools and classrooms, now so out of control.”
“Perhaps the greatest single barrier to being sure all nations are taught the exact same thing, with no room for misunderstanding, are man’s hundreds of different languages. All peoples must be given a pure language so that God’s knowledge is not subject to the error of translators working in and out of hundreds of languages and dialects. The fulfillment of Isaiah 11:9 has to involve a simultaneous worldwide education program.
“In fact, the Bible directly prophesies the coming of this new, pure language to be spoken by all nations. Notice: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9).
“Try to imagine a world with absolutely no communication barriers. It is a very different picture than today’s world.
“Only with one perfect language will every international barrier to peace truly disappear. The plague of mis-education and illiteracy will also vanish. Recognize that a leading cause of illiteracy is that great areas of the world do not even have language in written form. Among those that do, there are a variety of differing alphabets, such as Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Greek and Sanskrit. Also gone will be the multiple ways that people pronounce the same words differently.”
“Education and literacy will be universal in the world tomorrow, restoring dignity to all humanity, created in the image of God.”
“With proper education and no language barriers, ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’!”
Incorruptible teachers. A pure, easy to understand, universal language. A world-ruling government dedicated to educating all people. Only then will the scourge of illiteracy be erased.