International Literacy Day was initiated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1965, to promote awareness of the lack of education in so many places across the world. The ability to read and write is a basic human right that even now is overlooked in many countries. Approximately 775 million people are functionally illiterate. In other words, they lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to manage daily living and employment tasks. 64% of these people are women, as many societies in the developing world place the education of women as of lower importance than that of men. On September 8th, schools, organizations, libraries and individuals will be raising awareness of this issue, in the hope that one day we can eradicate such an ongoing human rights violation.
This year the theme of International Literacy Day is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. The ability to read and write is an essential driver towards learning all other skills and understanding the attitudes of others, both locally and in the worldwide community. Being able to read and write leads to the comprehension of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, health and welfare issues, and can help make the improvements in agriculture required for creating sustainable societies.
Celebrations for International Literacy Day will be taking place in the UK, USA and many other countries, as diverse as Algeria, Brazil, France, Cambodia and Mozambique. The main event of the day will take place at UNESCO Headquarters, where a two-day awareness course on Literacy and Sustainable Societies (8-9 September 2015) will be organized to address the issues involved in making sure that every person in the world gets a basic education.
Schools and libraries across Britain are taking part in International Literacy Day with read-a-thons, book swaps and auctions. To learn more you can go to the official event web site- http://internationalliteracyday.org/
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.