International Literacy Day
Wednesday the 8th of September is International Literacy Day, therefore this week we will take a look at the reasons why this day is commemorated and the importance of this day together with its benefits.
So for over 40 years now, various worldwide organisations have been celebrating International Literacy Day by reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.
Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults – is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target.
According to data released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, literacy rates for adults and youth continues to rise.
Despite these gains, 774 million adults still cannot read or write – two-thirds of them are women. Among youth, 123 million are illiterate of which 76 million are female. Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63% to 64%.
A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.
Focus for this year – 2021
International Literacy Day 2021 will be celebrated under the theme “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.
The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities, disproportionally affecting 773 million non-literate young people and adults. Youth and adult literacy were absent in many initial national response plans, while numerous literacy programmes have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.
Even in the times of global crisis, efforts have been made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, including distance learning, often in combination with in-person learning. Access to literacy learning opportunities, however, has not been evenly distributed. The rapid shift to distance learning also highlighted the persistent digital divide in terms of connectivity, infrastructure, and the ability to engage with technology, as well as disparities in other services such as access to electricity, which has limited learning options.