Written by Anurag Prasad
Every year on September 8, the world celebrates International Literacy Day to highlight
the importance of literacy and education in everyday life.
The day serves as a reminder of the value of individual growth, literacy, and societal advancement.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966, at the 14th session of its General Conference, announced the event, and the first International
Literacy Day was celebrated in 1967. In the year 2015, International Literacy Day
became an integral part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
The world has seen steady progress when it comes to literacy, but there are a number
of challenges that still persist. For instance, until 2020, at least 763 million young people
and adults lacked basic literacy skills. These challenges have been intensified by the
recent COVID-19 crisis, climate change, and conflicts.
It is important to appreciate the fact that literacy has a much broader meaning than
simply being able to read and write. It also encompasses the ability to acquire
knowledge, access information, and engage while contributing substantially to social,
economic, and cultural activities. So, literacy is a factor that can significantly play a vital
role in poverty reduction, healthcare improvement, promoting gender equality, and
On International Literacy Day, a wide range of activities, including events, seminars,
workshops, and campaigns, are organized to underscore the significance of literacy,
particularly in the context of advancing sustainable development objectives.
Governments, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and
communities worldwide actively engage in these initiatives to underscore the
importance of literacy and enhance access to high-quality education for everyone.
This year, International Literacy Day is being celebrated worldwide under the theme,
‘Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and
peaceful societies’. This theme will underscore our endeavour toward education and
lifelong learning. It will also reflect the role that literacy plays in building inclusive,
sustainable, just, peaceful, and sustainable societies.
The Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, has aptly put the the role of International
Literacy Day as, “If literacy is a victory for humanity, it is a fragile one: there is always
the possibility of a relapse. Let this International Literacy Day be a reminder of this - and
an opportunity to honour all those who are dedicated to making universal literacy a
reality, not just a goal.”