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TO MARK International Literacy Day, WE’LL BE WATCHING Maestra A film by Catherine Murphy

International Literacy Day

The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults, who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.


773 million adults and young people lack basic literacy skills;

617 million children and adolescents are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics;

During the initial phase of the pandemic, schools were closed disrupting the education of 62.3 per cent of the world’s student population of 1.09 billion;

Adult literacy and education were absent in initial education response plans, therefore many youth and adults with no or low literacy skills have had limited access to life-saving information.



#reading. #literacy. #education


Maestra (2012)

By Catherine Murphy

In 1961, over 250,000 Cubans joined their country’s National Literacy Campaign and taught more than 707,000 other Cubans to read and write. Almost half of these volunteer teachers were under 18. More than half were women.

Narrated by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, MAESTRA (Spanish for teacher) explores the experiences of nine of the women who, as young girls, helped eradicate Cuban illiteracy within one year. Interweaving recent interviews, archival footage, and campaign photos, this lively documentary includes one of the first Cubans of her generation to call herself a feminist and one of the first openly proud members of Cuba’s LGBT community. With wit and spirit, all recall negotiating for autonomy and independence in a culture still bound by patriarchal structures.

Eight years in the making, MAESTRA highlights the will and courage that made the monumental endeavour possible and the pivotal role of women’s and youth empowerment in building a new society.

*This film may be purchased by individuals for personal home viewing with family and friends only. It is strictly prohibited to screen, loan or broadcast for any group for either educational or commercial purposes.


#maestrathefilm #maestra #maestras

Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy is a U.S. filmmaker, activist and educator, best known for her documentary film MAESTRA about the 1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign. Her work principally focuses on social justice and literacy in the Americas. Murphy founded The Literacy Project in 2004 and Tres Musas Producciones in 2009.



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