Basic Education & Literacy

Supporting Education is one The Rotary Foundation's seven areas of focus

Basic Education & Literacy - photo by RGB&I template website
Basic Education & Literacy - photo by RGB&I template website

Did You Know?

  • More than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. That's 17 percent of the world's adult population.

Also, according to the National Literacy Trust:

  • 16% of adults are considered to be ‘functionally illiterate’ in the United Kingdom
  • 1.7 million adults in England, have literacy levels below those expected of an 11-year-old
  • The most frequent causes of illiteracy in adults are: dropping out of school and difficult living conditions, including poverty
  • Only 51% of pre-school children are read to daily
  • One in eight disadvantaged children don’t own a single book
  • One in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11. Similar percentages of 15-year-olds across the UK do not have a minimum level of literacy proficiency.

Basic education is not just literacy - it's what helps us to function successfully within our socities.

Area of Focus

"Basic education and literacy is directly linked to Supporing Education - one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus - that expands and creates opportunies for addressing other socio-economic issues. 

By improving available basic education and literacy rates in our communities, Rotarians are able to have a broader impact by helping to reduce poverty, improve health, encourage community and economic development, and promote peace. Rotarians are encouraged to be people of action and support actvites and training to improve education for all children and literacy for children and adults." - incoming Rotary International President Shekar Mehata.

Researching & Responding to Community Needs

With Rotary clubs located in countries around the world, Rotary is able to address many basic education and literact needs within local communities. Clubs can;

  • with partners, identify students or communities requiring support
  • identify underlying conditions which are negatively impacting learning and try to address them

Basic Education & Literacy Rotary Action Group (BELRAG)

BELRAG is a network of Rotarians throughout the world who have a special interest in acting upon the mission and goals of Rotary International.


In the West Midlands, RotaryBooks4Home provides the gift of a book for youngsters to read, take home and keep. 

RotaryBooks4Home aims to empower children to develop their love of reading and experience the chance to own books of their own. It also allows them to share that love of reading with their family.

For World Book Day, teachers in the West Midlands asked Rotary for small sized books which they posted through the letterboxes of children’s homes, ensuring everyone had a book to read.

Other Literacy Projects

  1. Eccles Rotary, in Greater Manchester, provides a Rotary Community Bookshop in their local shopping centre. They operate a twice monthly ‘book swap’ from a shop as well as supplying book boxes to a number of retirement complexes in the area. Two years ago, Eccles Rotary organised a Buzzing Book Bonanza linked to World Book Day, including children’s craft activities and storytelling linked to the “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library”.
  2. Rotary club of Elthorne-Hillingdon members volunteer to read books to children. Following basic training, each volunteer now visits Northwood School, Middlesex, to sit with a child for 40 minutes and assist with their reading.
  3. The Dictionary 4 Life project is a free standing project working in association with the Rotary Club of Battersea, Brixton and Clapham (District 1130), Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland and Usborne Publishing Ltd. 
  4. Marine environment books - Rtn. Gloria Barnett (The Weird Fish Lady) gives talks to schools on the marine environment and has written books for children including "Logan the Lobster", "Eye of the Turtle" and "Prickle the Puffer Fish".

World Book Day

World Book Day is on 3rd March each year.

How Rotarians Can Help

Find out how you can support children, young people and adults with volunteer projects to develop their literacy skills in the June/July 2021 edition of Rotary magazine

Sharing Local Projects

For more information and to share your Basic Education & Literacy projects please email

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