International Literacy Day 2023: Empowering Minds

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International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is annually observed on 8th September. Mark Twain once said ‘A man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.’ The ability to read and write is the most common definition of literacy. It is an essential tool in converting students into socially active citizens. Being able to read and write means being able to keep up with current events, communicate effectively, and comprehend the issues that shape our world.

Every year, International Literacy Day is celebrated to remind international citizens of the significance of literacy. International Literacy Day 2023 theme is ‘Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies‘. Let’s dig out more on the history, importance, traditions, and current theme of International Literacy Day in this blog. 

Did you know: The Indian State of Kerala is currently the most literate state in the country, with a literacy rate of 96.2%. In Kerala, the female literacy rate is 95.2%, while the male literacy rate is 97.4%. With an overall literacy rate of 88.7%, Delhi stood second after Kerala.

Background of International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day, which is celebrated every year on September 8, was first founded on 26 October 1966, by the proclamation of UNESCO. The day targets elevating focus and reminding human beings of the significance of literacy as a reminder of dignity and human rights. Furthermore, the literacy problem is a primary element of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development for 2030.

“I feel free and strong. If I were not a reader of books I could not feel this way. Whatever may happen to me, thank God that I can read, that I have truly touched the minds of other men.”

Walter Tevis, Mockingbird
Courtesy: UNESCO

International Literacy Day 2023 Theme

International Literacy Day 2022 theme was ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Space.’ This theme offered an opportunity to reevaluate the significance of literacy promote resilience and ensure high-quality, equitable, and inclusive education for everyone.

International Literacy Day 2023 theme is ‘Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies‘. International Literacy Day ’23 will bring opportunities towards advancement in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) in education and lifelong learning. This will have a positive impact on the role of literacy and assist in building more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable societies. This theme places literacy at its centre for the establishment of a just and peaceful society, and developments in its related fields.

In recent years, various developments have taken place in learning methods like distance learning, online learning, and in-personal learning. The pandemic, however, is a critical reminder of the significance of literacy. The theme this year is Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. This is a theme in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that shut down schools and drastically shifted how many students across the globe accessed literacy education

Did you know: Adult literacy and education were absent in initial educational response plans, therefore many people with no or low literacy skills have had limited access to life-saving information. 

Why is International Literacy Day Celebrated?

This day is observed to draw people’s attention to literacy and to make them aware of their rights in order to promote social and human development. Literacy is vital for survival and prosperity in the same way that food is. It is an essential instrument for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, regulating population increase, achieving gender equality, and so on. Literacy, it is true, has the capacity to improve family status. As a result, this day is observed to urge individuals to continue their education and to recognise their responsibilities to their family, society, and nation.

Timeline of the International Literacy Day 

The timeline of International Literacy Day has been explained below: 

  • 1965: The Ignition of the Idea of International Literacy Day 

The International Literacy idea was discussed at the World Conference of Ministers of Education on eradicating illiteracy in Tehran, Iran, in the year 1965. 

  • 1966: International Literacy Day Surfaced 

In 1966, UNESCO declared September 8 to be celebrated as International Literacy Day. The day aimed at reminding the international citizens of the significance of literacy for individuals, groups, and societies, and the want for intensified efforts closer to greater literate societies.

  • 1967: First Year of International Literacy Day 

Schools, government parties, and various communities/groups from around the world participated in the activities curated to focus on practical ways to end illiteracy at the local level. 

  • 1990: Critical Year for International Literacy Day

This year, the role and importance of international literacy were highlighted at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand

  • 2015: Declaration of International Literacy Day at Incheon 

In the year 2015, the global leaders adopted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the World Education Forum, held in Incheon, Republic of Korea

  • 2017: Literacy in a Digital World 

The day began its focus on the literacy skills necessary to guide digital-mediated societies in a digitally-driven world. 

Did you know: Around 617 million people in the world are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics

Traditions of International Literacy Day

Below are the traditions which are followed on International Literacy Day: 

  • Groups of people and organizations come forward to motivate and assist those who face difficulties in writing and reading. 
  • Various organisations and individual bodies ask students and volunteers to help children in the community or society. 
  • Books are sold generously and for free. 
  • Some volunteers even sponsor the tuition fees of children. 
  • Institutions and the government host fundraisers for the same cause. 
  • The theme of International Literacy Day is promoted every year to build awareness.
Did you know: Around 773 million youth and adults in the world either lack basic literacy skills or are illiterate!

Importance of International Literacy Day

After understanding the theme of this important event or day, why and how we can celebrate it, let’s now dig deep into the importance of International Literacy Day:

  • Enhances Your Communication Skills 

It helps people to understand the importance of reading and writing, which thus increases the ability of people to communicate effectively. That amplifies the oral language and allows people to express their feelings, ideas, and thoughts more openly. 

  • Improves Brain Health

As your body needs a daily workout to stay fit, your mind needs that too! So keeping reading, writing, and working with numbers improves brain health as we grow older. It also reduces the chance of developing Dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.

  • Social Engagement 

The lack of literacy skills reduces community participation for all age groups. It prevents children and adults from giving their best and contributing to the betterment of society. 

  •  Advancement in Employment 

Writing, reading, and working are essential skills for jobs that advance the social-economic ladder. Literacy helps in destroying poverty, one life at a time. 

Did you know: During the foremost phase of the pandemic, educational institutes were closed, harming the education of around 62.3% of the world’s student population of 1.09 billion. 

So this was all about the International Literacy Day. We hope you find this blog insightful with an opportunity to reimagine literacy teaching and learning, within and beyond the context of the pandemic. For more related articles, keep following Leverage Edu.

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