Understand The Background Of International Literacy Day Now
At a time when we need to reinvent a world of hope, literacy is more important than ever. On this International Day, I thus invite all those involved in education to redouble their investments and mobilize all their resources to unleash the potential of each individual in the service of a shared world. — Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, on the occasion of International Literacy Day
International Literacy Day is an international observance, celebrated each year on 8 September, that was declared by UNESCO on 26 October 1966 at the 14th session of UNESCO's General Conference. It was celebrated for the first time in 1967. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries.
Some 775 million lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults are still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. According to UNESCO’s "Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2006)", South Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%). The report shows a clear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women.
Celebrations of International Literacy Day have included specific themes, in line with Education For All goals and other United Nations programs such as the United Nations Literacy Decade. The celebration's theme for 2007 and 2008 was “Literacy and Health”, with prizes awarded to organizations at the forefront of health education.
This was also the thematic emphasis of the 2007–2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade. In particular, International Literacy Day 2008 had a strong emphasis on Literacy and Epidemics with a focus on communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, some of the world's forefront public health concerns. For 2009–2010 the emphasis was placed on “Literacy and Empowerment”,
with special consideration to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The theme of the 2011–2012 celebrations is “Literacy and Peace”.
The following writers are supporting UNESCO through the Writers for Literacy Initiative:
Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Philippe Claudel, Paulo Coelho, Philippe Delerm, Fatou Diome, Chahdortt Djavann, Nadine Gordimer, Amitav Ghosh, Marc Levy, Alberto Manguel, Anna Moi, Scott Momaday, Toni Morrison, Érik Orsenna, Gisèle Pineau, El Tayeb Salih, santhosh kumar Athaluri, Francisco Jose Sionil, Wole Soyinka, Amy Tan, Miklós Vámos, Abdourahman Waberi, Wei Wei,
Banana Yoshimoto. Not only do the writers contribute to raising awareness to the problem of illiteracy: along with the writers’ engagement, there are various companies and charity organizations that support the fight against illiteracy.
Some supporters of International Literacy Day include the Global Development Research Center, Montblanc, the National Institute for Literacy, and Rotary International.
CELEBRATIONS OF THE DAY IN 2021
International Literacy Day (ILD) 2021 will be celebrated under the theme “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.
The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities, disproportionally affecting 773 million non-literate young people and adults. Youth and adult literacy were absent in many initial national response plans, while numerous literacy programmes have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.
Even in the times of global crisis, efforts have been made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, including distance learning, often in combination with in-person learning. Access to literacy learning opportunities, however, has not been evenly distributed. The rapid shift to distance learning also highlighted the persistent digital divide in terms of connectivity, infrastructure, and the ability to engage with technology, as well as disparities in other services such as access to electricity, which has limited learning options.
The pandemic, however, was a reminder of the critical importance of literacy. Beyond its intrinsic importance as part of the right to education, literacy empowers individuals and improves their lives by expanding their capabilities to choose a kind of life they can value. It is also a driver for sustainable development. Literacy is an integral part of education and lifelong learning premised on humanism as defined by the Sustainable Development Goal 4. Literacy, therefore, is central to a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
ILD 2021 will explore how literacy can contribute to building a solid foundation for a human-centred recovery, with a special focus on the interplay of literacy and digital skills required by non-literate youth and adults. It will also explore what makes technology-enabled literacy learning inclusive and meaningful to leave no one behind. By doing so, ILD2021 will be an opportunity to reimagine future literacy teaching and learning, within and beyond the context of the pandemic.
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