Looking at technology and raw materials processing is only part of the graphics industry’s sustainability picture. It’s easy to forget that if people don’t read, we lose whole markets for books, magazines and newspapers both in print and online.
In the developed world, it’s easy to take reading and literacy for granted. Such hubris can also make it easy to forget that illiteracy plays a big part in many problems between communities. Literacy is necessary for progress, and although the graphics industry has been pretty lax in this regard, Kodak is a stand-out exception.
The company recently announced that it is expanding its global literacy programme, to increase the volume of children’s books and school supplies produced. The Print for Good programme has set up a new network that volunteer printing companies within the Kodak Sonora customer base can join. Printers signing up to the programme commit to printing at least 2000 copies of original children’s book titles or school notebooks, depending on what’s needed in their region. Kodak is establishing local partnerships to distribute the materials via schools and nonprofit organisations.
The programme operates across the globe and extends Kodak’s Print for Good scope to include volunteer companies. Last year over 30,000 books and other printed matter were provided to disadvantaged children in Europe, the USA, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Print for Good also provided the funds for a new library in a Haitian orphanage and prayer booklets for children in need in Israel. All of this helps to build communities and shared experiences, but it is not enough.
Kodak is also working with the Room to Read literacy programme, which works with local schools, communities, families and governments to encourage and support literacy among women and girls throughout Asia, towards a generational change in attitudes to literacy and education, as well as human rights. Kodak is working with the organisation and local government to provide books in the local language to a primary school in Rajasthan in India, as well as a safe learning environment. The partnership also includes teachers and librarians helping the children with their learning.
Printers from all major geographies are joining the Print for Good programme and the volunteer network to produce reading materials for children. Encouraging literacy helps communities to share ideas and increases educational opportunities. Literacy is fundamental to knowledge sharing, political and economic engagement and the development of plural societies. These are all reason enough to support literacy initiatives. That literacy initiatives also encourage reading and the use of print is an added bonus, and one that the graphics industry should welcome and support.