UNESCO, at its 14th session, in 1966, declared that October 26th is to be celebrated as International Literacy Day.
We talk about literacy but, you know, many of us don’t even know what literacy actually is? Literacy, in essence, simply means ‘the ability to be able to read and write’. 750 million people around the world are unable to read and write. Two-thirds of these people are women, according to the MIT Technology Review.
Now the question is why is this utterly basic inability to read a reality? There is a lack of literacy skills and access to education for the children; 250 million children are not learning basic reading and Math skills. So, there is an urgent need for more investment of resources in these children.
In the past, people wouldn’t care as much about literacy because they didn’t get such an environment to know about it. But as now literacy levels are on peaking in some countries and so is the necessity of having it in others. The importance of literacy for ourselves, communities and society in many countries is a lot.
Is a country’s literacy rate an indicator of its economic and social progress? Having good resources in the country is not enough; the literacy rate crisis needs to be rectified. The global monitoring report on education, of 2006, by UNESCO, says that South Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate followed by the sub-Saharan African countries. Various themes based on these are – education for all, literacy and peace, United Nation literacy decade, literacy and health, literacy and epidemics, literacy and empowerment with the sector of health and gender equality seen.
Many writer’s endeavours and their contributions to understanding and working on illiteracy is widely talked about on Literacy Day, like Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Philip Claudel, etc.
The global literacy rate for all people aged 15 and above is 86.3%. The global literacy rate for all males is 90.0% and the rate for all females is 82.7%. The rate varies throughout the world with developed nations having a rate of 99.2% (2013); Oceania having 71.3%; South and West Asia having 70.2% (2015) and sub-Saharan Africa at 64.0% (2015). Over 75% of the world’s 781 million illiterate adults are found in South Asia, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and women represent almost two-thirds of all illiterate adults globally.
Developing nations face the illiteracy crisis the most, either due to a thorough lack of resources or lack of manpower and skill to make use of those resources. We need solutions in the form of policies and action.
I hope we all contribute in any and every way we can by sponsoring someone’s education or just pushing the government for reform and better potential policies. Happy International Literacy Day!