The ability to read and write is a powerful tool. Not only does it allow us to communicate our ideas and interact with the world around us, but it also empowers us to become productive members of society. As crucial as literacy is to our well-being, illiteracy is still a major problem in this world.
According to the World Literacy Foundation, 20% of the world’s population can’t read or write. In regards to the rest of the 80% of the population, the International Literacy Association states that “roughly 12% of the world’s population is considered functionally illiterate, with only basic or below-basic literacy levels in their native languages.” With over 32% of the world population dealing with different forms of illiteracy, raising global awareness about the importance of literacy is a crucial necessity.
That’s where International Literacy Day comes into play.
In 1965, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) determined September 8th as International Literacy Day — a day dedicated to promoting literacy around the world. Wanting to convey the importance of literacy to the world, UNESCO has created a special theme for this day: Literacy and Sustainable Societies. As UNESCO explains:
“Literacy is a key driver for sustainable development. Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, required for creating sustainable societies. At the same time, progress in areas of sustainable development, such as health and agriculture, serves as an enabling factor in the promotion of literacy and literate environments.”
The point that literacy and sustainable societies go hand in hand is crucial. According to the World Literacy Foundation:
“Illiteracy is linked to higher rates of: unemployment, crime, long-term illness, [and] prejudice against women.”
It’s not hard to see the correlation, then. The less a society is literate, the greater the chance that the society will suffer. The greater the society is literate, the more the society will prosper and be sustainable. As a result, the products and achievements that come from the sustainable society will have a positive ripple effect on the world as a whole.
Another correlation? The more sustainable a society is, the more the society will rely on literacy and encourage younger generations to be literate. Thus, besides being important, it’s also necessary that we do all we can to promote the idea of literacy and the idea that everyone can achieve their maximum potential. The good news? It’s such a simple thing to do, and there are so many options! Here are just a few suggestions:
• Volunteer to read to a group of kids
• Donate books to charities that supply the books to people in need
• Raise money for charities that help support countries struggling with illiteracy rates
• Become a reading and writing advocate!
It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you’re promoting literacy in a way that portrays it as positive and possible.
International Literacy Day helps shed light on the widespread problem that is illiteracy. There are so many ways in which you can partake in the day and help support this necessary and worthy cause. How will you celebrate it today?