The United Nations (UN) International Literacy Day will be observed on tomorrow across the world including Pakistan to raise people’s awareness and concern for global literacy issues.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and its partners promote the day to underline the significance of literacy for healthy societies, with a strong emphasis on epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
This year’s International Literacy Day is dedicated to ‘literacies for the 21st century’ to highlight the need to realise ‘basic literacy skills for all’ as well as equip everyone with more advanced literacy skills as part of lifelong learning.
The day is celebrated to educate people awareness of literacy problems within their own communities. Activities such as letters to the editor in newspapers as well as news reports about concerns for low literacy levels have increased as a result of the awareness.
Other activities include literacy day projects, particularly with regards to technology and literature, which are promoted by various organisations including reading associations.
According to UNESCO, about 774 million adults lack the minimum literacy skills. One in five adults is still illiterate and two-thirds of them are women.
About 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. However, literacy is also a cause for celebration on the day because there are nearly four billion literate people in the world.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed a 10 year period beginning on January 1, 2003 as the UN Literacy Decade. The assembly also welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided that UNESCO should take a coordinating role in activities at an international level within the decade’s framework.
On this day every year UNESCO reminds the international community of the status and importance of literacy and adult learning globally.
International Literacy Day was first celebrated on September 8, 1966.