Encouraging and supporting literacy everywhere, September 8th marks International Literacy Day. The day focuses on the importance and value of literacy.
The ability to read and write isn’t only important for individuals, but societies as a whole. Some say literacy is a matter of dignity and human rights. Literacy is also an essential foundation of education. The ability to read and write even increases life expectancy.
Despite its importance, 775 million people across the globe are illiterate. About two-thirds of those who can’t read are women. There are 155 million children around the world who are currently not attending school. Lack of school attendance is a significant indicator of a child’s risk of being illiterate. The world literacy rate is at 82 percent. In most countries, the literacy rate has plateaued.
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. ~ Frederick Douglas
Around the world, communities, organizations, and governments celebrate literacy during Literacy Day. They also reflect upon the literacy challenges throughout the world. Globally, its recognized that higher illiteracy rates equal increased poverty levels.
The World Literacy Foundation dubbed International Literacy Day the most important day on the calendar.
HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Although much progress has been made in improving literacy rates in the more than fifty years since the first International Literacy Day, illiteracy remains a global problem. There are thought to be more than 750 million adults around the world who cannot read. The scourge of Illiteracy spares no nation or culture on earth, including the United States, where an estimated 32 million American adults are illiterate.
What exactly is literacy? Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines literacy as “the quality or state of being literate: educated…able to read and write.” Because you are able to read this post and no doubt spend a lot of time reading online, it may seem incredulous to learn there are people living and working in your own community who not only cannot read this post, but are unable to read a book, a restaurant menu, a road sign, a voting ballot, an instruction manual, a prescription bottle label, or a cereal box.
Can you imagine navigating modern-day life without the basic ability to read and write? Wiping out illiteracy in every local community around the world is what International Literacy Day is all about.
International Literacy Day was first conceived at the “World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy” held in Tehran, Iran in 1965. The following year UNESCO took the lead and declared September 8 as International Literacy Day, with the primary purpose being “…to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.” One year later, the global community accepted the challenge of ending illiteracy by participating in the first International Literacy Day.
FIVE REASONS LITERACY IS IMPORTANT TO EVERYONE
Studies show that giving the brain a daily workout reading, writing and working with numbers keeps brain cells healthy as we age, reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.
The lack of literary skills limits social engagement at all age levels and prevents adults and children from being able to participate fully and contribute to the betterment of society.
Learning to read and write improves our ability to communicate effectively with others by enhancing oral language, allowing us to express our feelings, thoughts, and ideas with others more clearly.
Knowing how to read, write and work with numbers are critical skills for jobs with opportunities to advance up the social-economic ladder. Literacy breaks the cycle of poverty, one life at a time.
Knowledge is Power
Literacy is the key to personal empowerment and gives us personal dignity and self-worth.
INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY DATES