International Literacy Day

Next Sunday, 8 September 2024

International Literacy Day is a United Nations holiday observed every year on September 8. The day was created to highlight the importance of literacy, as well as to raise awareness of the literacy problems that impact around 771 million adults and children around the world.

International Literacy Day also encourages governments to take action to improve their country's literacy rates. 

open book

International Literacy Day Background

International Literacy Day was created by UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1966 and first commemorated in 1967. The goal of the day is to remind people that education is important and that good literacy greatly improves an individual's quality of life. 

International Literacy Day began because a global need was identified to improve education and diminish illiteracy rates around the world. Currently, one in five adults is illiterate, with two-thirds of those being women. At the same time, around 61 million children don't attend school, and 250 million children lack basic literacy skills.

Literacy and reading are essential skills that help us learn and achieve an understanding of the world around us. They also help in proper communication and making communities stronger.

How International Literacy Day is Celebrated

There are many ways to take part in International Literacy Day, including simple ways such as reading a new book or challenging yourself to write a poem or short story. 

UNESCO also hosts official events to celebrate the day including online/in-person conferences and discussions. 

The UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

Among the events that UNESCO conducts on Literacy Day, one of the most popular ones is the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes for which there is an award ceremony in Paris. The two prizes are called the 'King Sejong Literacy Prize' and the 'Confucius Prize for Literacy'. Applications for these awards usually come from charities and organizations around the world that promote literacy among disenfranchised and marginalized communities. 

Like many United Nations Days, International Literacy Day has a different theme every year. which have ranged from "Literacy and Health", to "Literacy and Empowerment". The theme for 2023 is 'Promoting Literacy for a World in Transition: Building the Foundation for Sustainable and Peaceful Societies. 

Improve Literacy in Your Town

  • If you want to help improve literacy in your community, you can start volunteering at a school, library, or youth organization. This way, you can teach children and young people how to read and help them improve their skills.
  • You can also read to younger children to awaken a love of books in them and get them more interested in literature and reading. 
  • You can donate your old books to schools, libraries, and organizations. Moreover, donating some money will also help organizations that are working on eradicating illiteracy around the world. 
  • You can organize book clubs and events such as workshops, creative writing competitions, author visits, and so on in your locality.
  • You can also volunteer to teach people in prisons or correctional facilities. Although it is a difficult task, it is definitely rewarding and will further help to uplift society.

Facts You Should Know

  • According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan African countries have the lowest literacy rate in the world. For example, Mali has a literacy rate of just 35 percent.
  • Developing countries such as India have come a long way since their independence and currently have a literacy rate of 73 percent. However, the gender gap in education still prevails.
  • According to the latest World Economic Forum Report, the Global Gender Gap score in 2023 for 146 countries is closed at 68.4 percent. A lot of work still needs to be done to close the remaining percentage.

You might be interested to learn about Human Rights Day created by the United Nations as well. 

International Literacy Day
International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day - Next years

Monday, 08 September 2025

Tuesday, 08 September 2026

Wednesday, 08 September 2027

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