8 September: International Literacy Day

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The International Literacy Day (ILD) is being observed every year on 8 September to emphasize the importance of literacy to individuals, society, and communities. The day was established in 1966 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year it is 51st International Literacy Day. The theme announced by UNESCO for this year is `Literacy in a digital world’.

In India to observe this day, several functions were organized by the National Literacy Mission Authority. It included distribution of Saakshar Bharat Awards to best performing States, Districts, Gram Panchayats, and NGOs. The government uses the occasion of ILD for raising public awareness to eradicate illiteracy and create an environment in favor of adult education programs.

Background

The UNESCO in its 14th Session in November 1966 had declared 8th September as International Literacy Day.  Since then, ILD is celebrated every year by most of the member countries. On this day, in the year 1965, World Congress of Ministers of Education had met in Tehran for the first time to discuss the program of education at international level. 

The observance of ILD aims to mobilize public opinion in favor of struggle against illiteracy. It also seeks to disseminate information on literacy and raise the public awareness and the significance of literacy for individual and national development.

At record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialise everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their lives including access to information; knowledge management; networking; social services; industrial production, and mode of work. However, those who lack access to digital technologies and the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to navigate them, can end up marginalised in increasingly digitally driven societies. Literacy is one such essential skill.

Just as knowledge, skills and competencies evolve in the digital world, so does what it means to be literate. In order to close the literacy skills gap and reduce inequalities, this year’s International Literacy Day will highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, a world where, despite progress, at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills.

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. It is an occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter remaining challenges for the promotion of literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning within and beyond the 2030 Education Agenda.