The International Literacy Day is observed every 8th of September each year. This day aims to raise awareness on the various literacy issues faced by people from different parts of the world. The day also aims to endorse campaigns that can lead to the improvement of literacy of people, especially in parts where it is needed the most. This celebration was founded by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1965.
What is the International Literacy Day?
The International Literacy Day gives an opportunity for the civil society, government, and all other stakeholders to take a look at the world literacy rate (also by country and by region), and to reflect on the challenges towards improving the literacy rate of certain places. The aspect of literacy rate is a major component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). It is also a key component of UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
What are the SDGs?
The SDGs were adopted by UN member nations in 2015. There are about 17 goals in total. One of those focus on providing universal access to quality education and expanding learning opportunities for people. In particular, SDG number 4 targets to ensure that all youth will be able to achieve a specific literacy and numeracy rate so that they can become skilled and fit for work when they become adults.
What is the History of International Literacy Day?
This day is a reminder to all the people, especially world leaders and influencers, the importance of literacy. The day also wants to take note of the current learning and adult literacy rate in various countries all over the world. In fact, UNESCO makes use of the phrase “Literacy is the best remedy” in the banners that it produces in part of fighting for the right of everyone to education. As mentioned above, the UN adopted the SGDs in 2015. And one of these goals include improving the literacy rate of certain countries, especially those with low literacy rates.
The Beginning of Celebrations
However, the celebration itself started back in 1965. UNESCO proclaimed the 8th of September to be the world literacy day wherein illiteracy can be combatted. This day was declared so that people can become aware of the current status of literacy worldwide (which countries have the highest literacy rates and which ones have alarmingly low literacy rates). By knowing which countries have low literacy rates, policies and interventions can be focused in these places so that the education and training of the citizens can be improved.
The basic form of literacy is being able to read and write. When people have these skills, they are able to work and function more for the society. They can become productive. When they do have work, they will be able to provide a living for themselves and for their families. Unfortunately, it is a fact that there are still places in the world where illiteracy is a problem. There are places where a lot of people still don’t know how to read and write. The International Literacy Day aims to solve this problem.
Statistics on the History of Literacy
According to statistics, there are about 775 million adults worldwide who can be considered illiterate. They don’t have the basic skills of being able to read and write. This means that there are about 20% adults, or 1 in 5 adults, who are illiterate. Of these 20%, 66% are women. There are also about 75 million children who are either not in school or have dropped out from school. These statistics, fortunately, have improved over time thanks to UNSECO’s celebration of the World Literacy Day. Not only are people made aware of the current status of literacy worldwide, they are also encouraged to do activities that can help improve the literacy rate of countries.
When is the International Literacy Day?
This day is always celebrated on September 8 each year. This means that the upcoming International Literacy Day will be celebrated on September 8.
Theme: Literacy and Multilingualism.
Why Celebrate International Literacy Day?
The following are the main reasons why you should celebrate this day:
To Share Your Knowledge and Ideas
People cannot become educated without a teacher, tutor, or mentor. This is true especially when it comes to basic reading and writing. We cannot teach ourselves how to read and write. Most of the time, it is our parents or our teachers who first thought us of counting from 1 to 10 and reading the ABC up to Z. These things are the ones needed the most by illiterate people. They suffer from illiteracy primarily because of the lack of opportunity to learn and other hindrances. Hence, if you celebrate this day, you can contribute towards improving the literacy rate of specific places or certain people.
To Make the Most of Our Lives
Communication is extremely hard if literacy is an issue. If we don’t improve our literacy, we cannot make advancements, and thus, we cannot make our lives better. Hence, celebrating the literacy day is important because communication is a very important skill that all of us should learn. But we cannot learn to be literate by ourselves. We spread the knowledge and information so that other people can become a better version of themselves when it comes to reading, writing, and communicating.
To Advocate for Human Rights
One sad truth about the world where we live in is that most of the people who are oppressed are usually the ones who are illiterate. They cannot fight for themselves and they are taken advantage of. Most of them are not even aware of their rights. But being able to read, speak, and write can make people become more aware of their rights. They can now fight for themselves and avoid being take advantage of.
How to Celebrate International Literacy Day?
The following are the best things that you can do to make your celebration of the International Literacy Day not only a good one, but perhaps the best celebration in your life:
Donate to Improve the Literacy of People
One simple thing you can do to celebrate this day is to donate to the International Literacy Association. Proceeds from donations are used by the association to increase the literacy worldwide, especially in places where illiteracy is a problem. Aside from that, you can also just simply donate to a shelter or a school so that they may be able to buy supplies that can improve the literacy of the children.
Appreciate Your Teachers
Teachers play an especially important role in improving the literacy of the citizens. They dedicate a lot of their time and effort into teaching students how to read and write. It would be good to celebrate this day by showing your appreciation towards them, as if it’s like the World Teacher’s Day. You can send them a small gift, a card, or a letter thanking them for being good teachers.
Help Students Become Literate
Or perhaps you can be a teacher yourself. Any person who has the ability to read and write is able to teach another person how to do the same things. You might want to volunteer into teaching people how to read and write. You can, for instance, participate in a charity work aiming to teach street children how to read, speak, and write.
Celebrate on Social Media
You can also take your celebration on social media. You can use the hashtag #InternationalLiteracyDay to let your friends and family know that you are also participating in this important day of celebration. You may influence others to participate in this as well.
International Literacy Day Facts
The following are some interesting facts about the International Literacy Day that are worth sharing to other people:
- This holiday is one of the first days declared by the United Nations. It’s origin dates back to 1965.
- September 8 is the declared day of focusing public attention on the global problem of illiteracy.
- More focus is given on less developed or developing countries wherein most of the people are illiterate – they cannot read and write.
- Literacy is considered as a human right. It is an important part of personal and social development.
- Literacy is a key contributor towards attaining a variety of goals including poverty eradication, gender equality, democracy, peace, and sustainable development.
- The main organization behind the declaration of the World Literacy Day is the UNESCO. They spearhead the celebration of this event every year.
- According to statistics, there are about 793 million adults who are illiterate in 2011. About 2 million of them are women. About 67.4 million children are either out of school or have dropped out from school.
- UNESCO gives support to member countries of the United Nations when it comes to improving literacy. Most of their activities are focused towards improving technical expertise, capacity building, strategic policymaking, research, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy.
- Every year during the celebration, UNESCO gives an award for international literacy to the most innovative literacy programs. There are prizes given to those who come up with effective ways of fighting illiteracy.
- Each year, there is a theme for the celebration of the International Literacy Day. Some of the past themes include “The Power of Women’s Literacy”, “Literacy for Peace”, and “Literacy and Health”.
- Some of the supports of the celebration of the International Literacy Day include the Global Development Research Center, the National Institute for Literacy, Montblanc, and Rotary International.
- This day is celebrated widely in schools, non-government organizations, and community centers. There are also highly publicized national events.
- Philanthropic organizations also participate in this celebration to teach people how to read and write. They also conduct activities to improve the educational prospects of children.
- There are also organizations that offer scholarships to people, both children and adults.
International Literacy Day Quotes
- “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass
- “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain
- “If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.” ― Francois Mauriac
- “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” ― Malcolm X
- “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.” ― Carl Sagan
- “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” ― Frank Serafini
- “I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men.” ― Walter Tevis