Home FEATURES Why Celebrate International Literacy Day?

Why Celebrate International Literacy Day?


International Literacy Day is celebrated to raise people’s attention towards the importance and relevance of literacy and for people to know their rights for social and human development. As, Literacy is as important as food to be alive and successful.

Literacy is also necessary to eradicate poverty, lower child mortality, control population growth and attain gender equality. Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status. It is celebrated to encourage the people towards getting continuous education and understand their responsibilities for the family, society and the country.

But as we celebrate International Literacy Day, 8th September, 2017, there are about 774 million adults (according to UNESCO) that lack the minimum literacy skills. It further asserts that one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. There are about 75 million children who are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out before completion. However, literacy is also a cause for celebration on the day because there are nearly four billion literate people in the world.

The day raises people’s awareness of and concern for literacy problems within their own communities. Activities such as letters to the editor in newspapers, as well as news reports about the concerns for low literacy levels, have occurred as a result of this increased awareness. Other activities include literacy day projects, particularly with regard to technology and literature, which are promoted by various organizations including reading associations.

According to the global monitoring report on education it is noted that one among five men and two third women are illiterate. Some of them have minimum literacy skills.  Many children are still out of school and some are irregularly attending school. South and West Asia is noted to have the lowest adult literacy rate of about 58.6%. Many West African countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, The Gambia, Nigerare listed under countries with the lowest literacy rates.

International Literacy Day celebration cover specific themeseach year in order to effectively executing an existing strategic plan to resolve the problems related to illiteracy all over the world.  This year 2017, the theme is Literacy and the Digital World.

Over the years, the day has been celebrated with several special themes, programs and goals of education. The theme of the year 2007 and 2008 celebration was the Literacy and Health (with strong focus on epidemics to prevent people from the communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, cholera and Malaria). The theme of the year 2009 and 2010 was the Literacy and Empowerment of women whereas the theme of 2011 and 2012 celebration was Literacy and Peace.

The importance of celebrating the day is to promote the public consciousness about extraordinary value of written word and requirement to encourage the literacy rates within the society. Some writers who support literacy improvement are Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho, Philippe Delerm, Paul Auster, Philippe Claudel, FatouDiome and many more.

Some of the companies and charitable organizations such as Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Africa Network for Education for All (ANCEFA) & it affiliated national education coalitions in 34 African Countries, Global Development Research Center, Rotary International, Montblanc and the National Institute for Literacy among others in more than 100 countries are also involved in supporting the social literacy.

MatarrSuraa K. Baldeh

Education Advocate

The Gambia

Photo Africansky.org:  Malian women attending adult literacy classes in Zeala, approx. 50 miles north of Bamako