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Literacy and Education in SIL

SIL's work in literacy and education

“Your mission as ambassadors of literacy deserves high praise. By transcribing into writing mother tongues that were peviously unwritten, you are facilitating the preservation of ethnic cultures and building bridges for those cultures to the rest of humanity.”

—Javier Perez de Cuellar
Secretary-General of the United Nations
May 1988

SIL International as a philanthropic, non-governmental organization is committed to linguistic research, language development, literacy, and other projects of practical, social, and spiritual value for the lesser known cultural communities of the world. The members include trained linguists, literacy and education specialists, anthropologists, and language development workers.

A distinctive feature of SIL is its focus on unwritten or undeveloped languages. Speakers of such languages frequently dwell on the fringes of national life, living in geographic, social, and economic isolation. Consequently, SIL's focus on unwritten languages coincides with service to some of the poorest and most marginalized peoples living today. The developing countries contain most of the world's more than 6,900 living languages. It is estimated that 98 percent of the world's illiterates live in these countries.