Education Worldwide: Literacy and Service Lead The Conversation at South

By: Dustin Petridge | Lifestyle Editor

Photo Courtesy of Movemeback. 

On March 25, Laureen Fregeau of the University of South Alabama hosted a live conversation with Dr. Kimberly Smith about distributing literature and the power of reading to children internationally. 

Smith is a professor from Brewton, Alabama, helping to bring quality education to children from conflict-ridden countries and refugee communities for decades. 

Having served as a member of the International Rescue Committee, the Research Triangle Institute, and SAVE The Children International, Smith has dedicated her life to serving children and spoke at South to provide more information about literacy worldwide.

Fregeau opened the discussion by introducing herself and detailing her experiences, providing several statistics about youth literacy globally. According to Smith, “Less than 2% of humanitarian aid goes to children worldwide.” 

The conversation lasted for an hour and a half and explored topics such as Smith’s personal journey from Alabama to West Africa and the obstacles in teaching second languages to children abroad. 

When asked about the best method for creating generational literacy, Smith stated that “we need to start early when teaching children because it makes an exponential difference.” 

A more critical topic in the discussion was the discrepancies between languages in nations where multiple languages are spoken at high rates. 

In many Sub-Saharan African countries, French, Arabic, and the local languages are spoken for different purposes, sometimes causing a lack of concentrated learning in one specific language, as explained by Smith. 

Other topics included a lack of bilingual education in American schools and bridging English to widely-spoken languages in the United States, such as Spanish.

The conversation gave important insight into the struggles of children in areas where education is suppressed or forbidden and demonstrated perspectives from different parts of the world, giving an understanding of people in different circumstances globally. 

For more information on how to attend events like this in the future, visit the College of Education and Professional Studies’ website.