International Literacy Day 2020: History, theme, significance; here's all you need to know

The International Literacy Day is celebrated on September 8 every year globally to raise awareness and remind people of the importance of literacy. The UNESCO declared this day as an opportunity for governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges.


The 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on October 26, 1966 declared September 8 as International Literacy Day. And since 1967, celebrations have taken place annually around the world on this day to spread awareness about the importance of the literacy to individuals, society, and communities.


According to United Nations, the theme of International Literacy Day 2020, is “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” The theme highlights literacy in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.

During COVID-19, in many countries, adult literacy programmes were absent in the initial education response plans, so most adult literacy programmes that did exist were suspended, with just a few courses continuing virtually, through TV and radio, or in open air spaces, the United Nations said.

Why we celebrate International Literacy Day

The International Literacy Day is celebrated to encourage awareness towards literacy so that people from around the globe can know their social and individual rights. Literacy is considered to be a necessity for social and personal development.

According to United Nations, globally, at least 773 million adults and youths still cannot read and write, while 617 million children and adolescents are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.

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