International Literacy Day 2014

Just been working with teachers in Zambia -some have ZERO reading books in their classroom and many have less than 10. This is an area with their local language of Bemba, so a few reading books in English is not going to help when they come to having to take a leaving exam in English.

Literacy development, in such confusing situations, is common in many countries, and a concerted policy and implementation process to get the best out of these children and young people. A whole generation can lose their right to quality education, due to a lack of vision and resources , in terms of literacy. One day is not enough , but we have to kkep trying 🙂



Literacy is a human right. It is a tool for personal empowerment and essential for sustainable development, poverty reduction, gender equality, maternal health, child mortality reduction, and peace and democracy. – UNESCO

Celebrated on September 8th of each year, International Literacy Day serves as a reminder of the status of literacy worldwide and of the importance of literacy in peace, development, poverty eradication, empowerment, health and gender equality.

While the number of illiterate persons has fallen over the past decade, 781 million adults, two-thirds of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills. An additional 126 million youth are considered to be illiterate. More than one-half (53%) of the global illiterate population reside in South and West Asia, 24% in sub-Saharan Africa, 12% in East Asia and the Pacific, 6.6% in the Arab States and 4.2% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Less than 2% of the remaining global illiterate population live in the remaining regions combined. Living in conflict-affected areas increases the likelihood of individuals not becoming literate or gaining access to education. An estimated 28.5 million primary school aged children remain out of school in conflict affected countries. For more information on adult and youth literacy rates, click here.

While much progress has been made in improving adult and youth literacy over the past two decades and literacy rates are estimated to continue to improve in the coming years, continued efforts are needed to lessen the vast number of illiterate adults and children worldwide. Literacy not only helps reduce poverty and enables people to find jobs, but it is one of the most efficient ways of improving the health of mothers and children. UNESCO estimates that the lives of more than two million children under the age of five were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in the education of reproductive age women. Literacy also facilitates peace and democracy within societies, as poorly-literate individuals are less likely to participate in democratic processes and have fewer chances to exercise their civil rights.

Literacy and Sustainable Development

The theme of International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.”  As UNESCO notes, literacy is a key element in empowering people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. It plays a critical role in the development of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies.

International Literacy Day iscelebrated worldwide with the main global celebration taking place in Dhaka. The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in partnership with UNESCO, in support of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), is hosting an International Conference on Girls’ and women’s literacy and education titled: “Foundations for sustainable development.” The UNESCO Literacy Prizes will also be awarded.


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