“Literacy is the first step towards freedom, towards liberation from social and economic constraints. It is the prerequisite for development, both individual and collective. It reduces poverty and inequality, creates wealth, and helps to eradicate problems of nutrition and public health.”
— Audrey Azoulay, Director General, Message on the occasion of the International Literacy Day 2018
The figures are alarming but there are around 800 million people still in the world who are illiterate even in their native languages with 2/3rds of them being women. At the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 26th October 1966, September 8th was designated to be the International Literacy Day (ILD). Every year since then, on this day World Literacy Day is celebrated to tell the people of the importance of being literate as a matter of dignity, human rights and society as a whole. Despite all the efforts made, the challenge still persists.
Every year UNESCO announces the theme for International Literacy Day and this year the emphasis will be on ‘Literacy and Multilingualism’. Adopting linguistic diversity in education and literacy development is crucial while addressing the challenges to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
Celebration of the International Literacy Day in UNESCO Headquarters
On 9 September, UNESCO has invited the international community to the ‘Literacy and multilingualism’ conference in Paris with the main objectives to –
- Have a better grasp of global landscapes of ‘literacy and multilingualism’ in today’s world and generate ideas to build on previous efforts to promote literacy in multilingual contexts;
- Examine the main characteristics of ‘literacy and multilingualism’ in today’s globalized, digitalized world for improved policies and practices
- Identify main factors that make policies and programmes to promote literacy and multilingualism more inclusive and effective.
- Explore elements of conducive environments, conditions, and partnerships that can help expanding mother language-based, multilingual approaches to literacy.