National Literacy Crusade

Documentary heritage submitted by Nicaragua and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2007.

The archives of the National Literacy Crusade (CNA) are a unique collection of a variety of documents created on the occasion of a mass literacy campaign conducted in Nicaragua in 1980. That campaign, termed Crusade, was organized after the overthrow of the dictatorship of the Somoza family. It was made possible with the participation of 60,000 young people who, for five months, lived in the rural areas of the country to teach more than half of the poor and illiterate population of Nicaragua to read and write. At the same time, entire brigades of voluntary teachers from 16 countries joined in the Literacy Crusade to back up its technical organization and the preparation of teaching materials, and to prepare the young Nicaraguans for their mission. 

With this large-scale effort the illiteracy rate was brought down in five months from 50% to 12%. The National Literacy Crusade is the greatest educational and cultural achievement in the history of Nicaragua. It was a major experience for the young from the cities who taught people to read and, at the same time, discovered the other half of the country with its conditions of neglect and poverty bequeathed by 50 years of dictatorship. 

With its massive, participatory and united character, the Crusade became a unique national and international experiment that won the recognition of UNESCO, which awarded it two Nadezhda Krupskaya Medals. 
The National Literacy Crusade generated a variety of material and documents which have been assembled and preserved by the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America (IHNCA), with special reference to letters, interviews, first-hand accounts, diaries, maps, cassettes, and literacy exercise books and textbooks in Spanish, “Creole” English, Miskito and Sumu (languages of the ethnic minorities of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua).

  • Year of submission: 2007
  • Year of inscription: 2007
  • Country: Nicaragua
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