International Literacy Day – History & Classroom Activities

What’s your favorite book? Think of all the books you have ever read. Now imagine if you had not read any of them. How would your life be different?

Concern Worldwide – Photo: Kevin Carroll

Out of 7.3 billion people in the world today, 12% are illiterate. This means that 1 in 5 adults are incapable of writing their own name, let alone reading a line out of a book. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly states under its 26th article the right to a free education “at least in the elementary and fundamental stages”, marginalized populations are often denied this basic right.

Today is International Literacy Day, established by UNESCO in 1966 to raise awareness on the issue by eliciting support worldwide. In 1965, the World Conference of Ministers of Education met in Tehran, Iran to discuss future plans which would involve the eradication of illiteracy. As a way to honor the inauguration of this meeting, the Conference decided that September 8 would be proclaimed as International Literacy Day.

This year’s theme for the day is literacy and sustainable societies. But what exactly does that mean? Literacy has been associated with the reduction of poverty as it offers skills for gaining knowledge, values, and attitudes for expanding societies in a sustainable way. Simultaneously, the promotion of literacy boosts agriculture, health, and vocational skills, leading societies to become more efficient and environmentally literate.

So how can you raise awareness and promote literacy on this day? Host a read-a-thon at your school or simply exchange books with friends.  You could create a book club or even start a writing competition. Check out more activities here:

Students at Jabuti school in Mogadishu, which is supported by Concern Worldwide.

Students at Jabuti school in Mogadishu, which is supported by Concern Worldwide.

If you would like to register to plan an activity, and receive support and resources from International Literacy Day, check out the link below:

Be an active global citizen by pledging to raise awareness so that we eradicate illiteracy.