Photoreportage about the Italian campaign against illiteracy in 1950s

Photoreportage about the Italian campaign against illiteracy in 1950s

On the UNESCO website it is now available the complete photoreportage commissioned in the 1950s to photographer David Seymour to document the status and progress of the Italian Government program to fight illiteracy, which was a huge problem particularly in the south of the country. David Seymour was therefore sent to Calabria and out of his travels a small photo album with 78 pages, composed of contact sheets and accompanying text, was delivered. The accompanying text provide an analysis of the sociological context of the time and is particularly interesting for research by specialists.

Now, the UNESCO decided to digitize and make available online the album, creating a virtual exhibition freely accessible.

General View of Rogiano Gravina. Rogiano Gravina is located around forty kilometers north of Cosenza, in the center of a very poor agricultural district. It counts close to 6,000 in habitants, and it is the most active community in Calabria in the fight against illitteracy. One thousand children in school age are attending school, reaching almost one hundren per cent of attendance, and 700 adults are coming every night to a school established by the Unione Per La Lotta Contro L’Analfabetismo with Government support.[…] The Government is building a large elementary school which in the future will replace the 42 private schoolrooms and workshops for the adults.”

In addition to the production of this album, an article was published in March 1952 in the UNESCO courier by no less than Carlo Levi, the author of renowned book Christ Stopped at Eboli, dealing with issues such as the ‘North-South divide’ in Italy and populations in need of economical and educational support.

The virtual exhibition:

Carlo Levi’s article in the UNESCO Courier: Vol. V, No 3, March 1952, pp. 1-5


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