The Oxford dictionary defines the term ‘literacy’ as, ‘the ability to read and write’. Possessing the ability to read and write is very essential for an individual in the modern world. Literacy is a medium to educate people and lead them towards advancement. Much progress has been made by different countries towards increasing the literacy rates but still, literacy remains a global problem. As per UNESCO, more than 773 million adults and children across the world do not possess even basic reading and writing skills. So, UNESCO started International Literacy Day to spread awareness regarding literacy across the world and chose September 8 to celebrate this day every year. This year also UNESCO has taken the initiation to celebrate International Literacy Day 2021.
History behind the Celebration of the International Literacy Day 2021
The very first time the idea of an International Literacy Day was born at the World Conference of Ministers of Education on the eradication of illiteracy which was held in Tehran in 1965. The UNESCO proclaimed September 8 as International Literacy Day to combat the issue of illiteracy in the year 1966 and from the next year 1967, started celebrating this day annually.
This day is a means to remind the global community about the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies. The motive behind Literacy Day was to focus on the collective efforts for making society literate and people aware of the same. In the year 2015, the UN’s sustainable development goals program was adopted in which issue related to literacy was among the major components of the program.
Why do we celebrate International Literacy Day (ILD)?
Many people are struggling with the illiteracy and a large number of them are women. So, the International Literacy Day is a way to raise awareness about the value of literacy in human life. The main motive behind this day is to encourage adults and children to develop their literacy skills. Without literacy, we cannot bring the required changes in the world and cannot improve our living standards. No country is developed without literacy. The literacy gives the person a power to construct his/her future. If a person can read and write, then he/she can get education or develop basic knowledge that will somehow contribute to the society indirect or indirect ways. If a country has a good amount of literate citizens then it leads to improvement in the country’s health, social and economic conditions.
The need to celebrate Literacy day this year is even more important as thousands of schools were forced to shut down and many adult literacy courses had to be suspended because of the outbreak of Covid-19. The disruption caused by the pandemic crisis may affect literacy programs in the long term. Therefore, UNESCO has been proactive and playing a central role to improve literacy worldwide. That is why UNESCO encourages governments, charities, local communities, and experts of the related field to promote International Literacy Day 2021.
Effect of International Literacy Day 2021 on Our Society
If we talk about the meaning of literacy, we understand that the ability to read and write is considered literacy. But literacy is not just about reading and writing, it is a unique and strong tool to eradicate poverty. It is a powerful means for social and human progress. Beyond the intrinsic importance of literacy, it empowers individuals and improves their lives. It expands the capabilities of a person to choose a kind of life they can value. Literacy is also a key element for sustainable development. One literate person can lead a good life and can also improve the quality of life of other people.
Literacy is not only limited to education though it is an integral part of education that provides lifelong learning premised on humanism. Education can be a tool to make people literate. Just like our basic needs such as food, cloth and shelter, literacy is also important. A literate person knows what to do and what steps should be taken that will lead not only him but the whole society towards progress. Literacy can also help in eradicating poverty, child mortality, gender inequality, etc.
It can also make people understand the problems of overpopulation and educate them to control population growth. Literacy surely has the ability to raise the status of a family and therefore it brings positive changes to our society. Hence, International Literacy day encourages people to get continuous education and thus makes them understand their responsibility towards their family, society, and the country.
Theme and Celebration of International Literacy Day 2021
Every year, countries come together to celebrate this day with a theme. With the theme ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’ people celebrated International Literacy Day 2020. The theme of International Literacy Day 2021 is ‘Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide’. The theme is selected by the UNESCO as the COVID-19 crisis has not only disrupted the learning of children but also affected the work of young people and adults at an unprecedented scale.
The pandemic has also widened the already-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy and learning opportunities. This increase in inequality has affected millions of non-literate young learners and adults of the world. Moreover, the Covid crisis has forced to stop numerous literacy programmes and their usual modes of operation. Even efforts that have been made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning including distance or online learning are not evenly distributed.
So, this year people are celebrating the day with the motive to literate people to reduce the digital divide among them. Social media platforms are floating with the wishes, images, quotes, etc. that people shared to celebrate this day with the trend #InternationalLiteracyDay.
The curse of Illiteracy has hardly spared any nation or culture on earth. The countries which are called as developed nations too are not completely free from the illiteracy. There are several adults in developed nations who do not have basic literacy skills. When there would be no single person left illiterate, then only we can consider ourselves as fully developed. Every year the World Literacy Day tries to make a change in society and International Literacy Day 2021 will shine a light on the need of bridging the digital divide as the need for the digital world is rising over time. So, participate in the celebration of this day by becoming a part of any literacy campaigns that have been organized by different associations.
International Literacy Day 2021: FAQs
Q1. When do we celebrate International Literacy Day?
Ans. We celebrate International Literacy Day on 8th September every year.
Q2. When was International Literacy Day started?
Ans. The World Literacy Day or International Literacy Day (ILD) was started by UNESCO in 1967.
Q3. What is the main objective of World Literacy Day?
Ans. The aim of this day is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
Q4. What was the theme of International Literacy Day 2019?
Ans. The theme of International Literacy Day 2019 was ‘Literacy and Multilingualism’.
Q5. What Literacy Day means?
Ans. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it is a day that is chosen to spread awareness about the importance of literacy across the world.