“Literacy is not just about educating; it is a unique and powerful tool to eradicate poverty and a strong means for social and human progress.”
International Literacy Day, designated by UNESCO in 1967, is an annual awareness day marking literacy’s importance to all countries and cultures. It takes place annually on the 8th of September.
Who is UNESCO?
UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The organization seeks peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences, and Culture.
They transcended political agendas and were established after World War II ended in 1945 to pursue peace and global cooperation in the fields of Education, Science, and Culture. Their work spans many other areas beyond literacy, but they see this as essential for peace and prosperity.
This event aligns with the Education For All Goals and the United Nationals program (United Nations Literacy Decade). This year, UNESCO’s International Literacy Day conference will be virtual. Many well-known writers support the event to celebrate the importance of learning about literature and language.
The World Literacy Foundation and the UK’s National Literary Trust are related.
Why do we need International Literacy Day?
This year, particularly, it’s even more important to discuss literacy. Thousands of schools were closed globally, and many adult literacy courses and classes also had to be suspended during the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s unclear what this year’s impact on literacy is in the long term, but one thing is clear – it’s more important than ever to spotlight literacy skills and encourage children and adults alike to develop them.
How can you celebrate International Literacy Day?
You might like to discuss this topic with children and have an extra focus on writing and reading skills. For example, you could ask them to imagine life without the privilege of being literate and how having the ability to read and write empowers children and adults in terms of their education, career prospects, and other pursuits.
Furthermore, you could ask children to review their favorite books, do a creative writing task, or read a story together. For something artistic, they could design their book covers or bookmarks. Finally, ask them to do a word search or think about their favorite authors or genres.
Perhaps your class could participate in a fundraising event like a bookish bake-off for a literacy charity or donate books – this would be a great way to get children involved in helping others.