ILD, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes, as part of its agenda, universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.
International Literacy Day History:
The 8th of September was proclaimed Literacy Day by UNESCO at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26 October 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.
The idea of an ILD was born at the World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy, held in Teheran, Iran, on 8-19 September 1965.
According to the global monitoring report over education it is noted that one among the five man and two third women is illiterate. Some of them have minimum literacy skills, some children are still out of school and some are irregularly attending the school. South and West Asia is noted to have the lowest adult literacy rate of about 58.6%. The countries with the lowest literacy rate are Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The day is celebrated having special themes, programs and goals of education all over the world. The theme of year 2007 and 2008 celebration was the Literacy and Health (strong attention over the epidemics to prevent people from the communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, cholera and Malaria). The theme of the year 2009 and 2010 was the Literacy and Empowerment of women whereas the theme of 2011 and 2012 celebration was the Literacy and Peace.
The importance of celebrating the day is to promote the public consciousness about extraordinary value of written word and requirement to encourage the literate rate of the society. Some of the writers writing to support literacy improvement are Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho, Philippe Delerm, Paul Auster, Philippe Claudel, Fatou Diome and many more. Some of the companies, charity organizations, Global Development Research Center, Rotary International, Montblanc and the National Institute for Literacy are also involved in supporting the social literacy. Literacy shapes the life of human beings as well as builds up their cultural identity.
Why ILD is celebrated:
Celebrating the Literacy Day is to promote the human attention towards the literacy and know their rights for social and human development. Literacy is as important as food to be alive and success. It is too necessary to eradicate the poverty, lowering the child mortality, controlling the population growth, attaining the gender equality and etc. Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status. It is celebrated to encourage the people towards getting continuous education and understand their responsibilities for the family, society and the country.
International Literacy Day Themes:
Celebration takes place on a specific theme of the year in order to make it effective by executing some strategic plan to resolve the problems related to the illiteracy all over the world in many countries. Some of the year wise themes of the ILD are mentioned below:
- 2006: “Literacy sustains development” to focus on achieving social progress.
- 2007 and 2008: “Literacy and Health” to focus on literacy and epidemics (communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, etc).
- 2009 – 2010: “Literacy and Empowerment” to focus on gender equality and empowering women.
- 2011 – 2012: “Literacy and Peace” to focus on importance of literacy for peace.
- 2013: “Literacies for the 21st Century” to promote global literacy
- 2014: “Literacy and Sustainable Development” to promote sustainable development in the areas of social development, economic growth, and environmental integration.
- 2015: Literacy and Sustainable Societies
- 2016: Reading the Past, Writing the Future
- 2017: Literacy in a digital world
- 2018: Literacy and skills development
- 2019: Literacy and Multilingualism
- 2020: Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond
- 2021: Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide