Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
UNESCO has been at the forefront of global literacy efforts since 1946, advancing the vision of a literate world for all. It views acquiring and improving literacy skills throughout life as an intrinsic part of the right to education. The “multiplier effect” of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods.
Literacy is also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities. Beyond its conventional concept as a set of reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.
Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million adults worldwide lacking basic literacy skills today. This results in an exclusion of low-literate and low-skilled youth and adults from full participation in their communities and societies. The recent Covid-19 crisis has been a stark reminder of the existing gap between policy discourse and reality: a gap that already existed in the pre-Covid-19 era and is negatively affecting the learning of youth and adults who have no or low literacy skills and therefore tend to face multiple disadvantages.
International Literacy Day 2020 will therefore provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programmes to face the pandemic and beyond. The Day will also give an opportunity to analyse the role of educators, as well as effective policies, systems, governance and measures that can support educators and learning.
Date: Sep 8th