International Literacy Day, observed every year on September 8, is a significant occasion that highlights the essential role of literacy in the personal development and progress of society. This global day, established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), serves as a reminder of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.
The day is observed to advance the agenda of literacy across the world. According to UNESCO, at least 76 crore young people and adults globally lacked basic literacy skills in 2020.
History of International Literacy Day
The roots of International Literacy Day trace back to the World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy, held in Tehran, Iran, in 1965. This conference sparked the idea of a day dedicated to promoting literacy on a global scale. Subsequently, UNESCO officially declared September 8 as International Literacy Day during its 14th General Conference in 1966. One year later, on September 8, 1967, the world celebrated this special day for the first time, marking the beginning of a significant global observance.
Significance of International Literacy Day
According to UNESCO, approximately 775 million people around the world lack basic literacy skills. Shockingly, one in five adults remains illiterate, with a significant gender gap as two-thirds of these individuals are women.
Moreover, millions of children are absent from school or attend irregularly, and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated these challenges. Nearly 24 million learners may never return to formal education, with 11 million of them being girls and young women.
International Literacy Day provides a platform for governments and responsible authorities to shine a spotlight on progress made in literacy rates and to develop strategies that ensure literacy becomes accessible to all.
The theme of International Literacy Day 2023
Every year, a new theme is decided by UNESCO for the day. The theme for International Literacy Day 2023, is ‘Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies.’ This theme underscores the transformative power of literacy in shaping the future. It builds on knowledge and insights generated through recent initiatives such as the Seventh International Conference on Adult Education and the Transforming Education Summit.
To celebrate this theme, a global event will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, on September 8, 2023. The event will also feature the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes award ceremony, recognizing outstanding programs dedicated to advancing literacy worldwide.
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