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What and When Is International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually on September 8th.

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Since its development, the International Literacy Day has been celebrated each year worldwide to remind the public on the importance of literacy. By simply celebrating this day, UNESCO aims at achieving a more literate and sustainable society. International Literacy Day has been celebrated annually on September 8th since 1967.

History of International Literacy Day

Literacy is the ability of a person to read and write. The concept of being able to read and write is gaining profound fame all over the globe. This concept is expanding rapidly across the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to incorporate skills of accessing knowledge via the application of technology and assessing complex contexts.

The International Literacy Day was formulated with the aim of highlighting the importance of knowing how to read and write in the current society. The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first publicly announced it in 1966 during the organization’s General Conference. The International Literacy Day was set to be celebrated on September 8th, annually. This day was first celebrated in 1967.

Celebrating International Literacy Day

On International Literacy Day, various government institutions and civil society organizations are supposed to highlight literacy improvements that have been recorded and reflect on the challenges that are facing the advancement of literacy levels in the world. The improvements and challenges highlighted would help in strengthening literacy in the future society.

The main agendas stated in the UNESCO’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is promoting literacy levels in current society. The world leaders launched this program in September 2015.

By 2030, UNESCO aims at achieving universal access to quality education and better learning opportunities for all the different age groups in the society. One of UNESCO's goals is ensuring that the young generation achieves literacy and numeracy as well as ensuring that illiterate adults are given an opportunity to acquire this skill.

Themes for International Literacy Day

Each year has a different theme regarding the celebration of this day. Initially, the UNESCO was aiming at enhancing literacy levels regarding reading and writing; however, with the rapid change in technology, UNESCO has shifted its agenda to literacy in a digital world.

In 2017, the primary theme for the International Literacy Day was “Literacy in a digital world.” The main objective in the stated theme entails the reflection on the meaning of what literacy means with the increasingly mediated societies. Through this year, this organization also aims at exploring how the application of digital technologies can aid in the progress of attaining the main agenda of the International Literacy Day.

In 2018, the theme for the International Literacy Day was “Literacy and Skills development.” Despite the massive improvements recorded, literacy challenges still exist in modern society while the demand for skills required in a work environment is rapidly evolving. This theme aims at exploring the integrated approaches that support the growth of literacy and development of skills. Through this approach, UNESCO would be able to improve people’s lives through the skills learned. This day was focused on the required skills and competence needed for employment.

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