September is basic education and literacy month in Rotary. Following are some interesting statistics retrieved from Wikipedia. The world literacy rate for all males is 90% whereas for females the rate is 82.7%. Developed nations have an overall rate of 99.2%, with south and west Asia having 70.2% and sub-Saharan Africa at 64.0%. These statistics are dated 2016 but we can see that, in keeping with President Shekhar’s emphasis on improving the lives of girls and women, we need to increase access to education for females worldwide, especially in Africa.
Very simple, inexpensive projects can make large differences in accomplishing access to education. The Rotary Club of Nakuru, Kenya and Rotary Club of Davis Sunrise (California) have partnered to provide reusable sanitary pads for girls and women in Nakuru and nearby villages so that these girls and women would not miss school during their menstrual cycles. The response by the students in Kenya has been overwhelming. Our own Mineola Rotary Club is implementing a program, EarlyAct FirstKnight, to develop high moral character and social and emotional learning skills for elementary and middle school students by utilizing the Rotary Four-Way Test. The foregoing are examples of how clubs can Serve to Change Lives in improving education and literacy. Educating girls saves lives and builds stronger families, communities and economies. Women who have access to education have greater confidence in their ability to lead – a fact that is exemplified in District 5830 by all our great women leaders in our district and in our clubs. Studies have shown that women who have received an education are much less likely to support extremism and militarism than men educated to a similar level, which can lead to a safer and more compassionate society for all. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So as we Serve to Change Lives this month, consider putting in service programs that place this weapon of education in the hands of those at home and abroad, especially girls and women.  Give the Gift of Rotary.
Mike Groom, District Governor