There should be cause for celebration as close to four billion people in the world are literate. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults - is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. One in five adults are still not literate and about two-thirds of them are women while 67.4 million children are out of school. On International Literacy Day UNESCO aim to create a literate world and promote literacy for all.
This year’s International Literacy Day, celebrated world-wide on 8 September, will focus on the link between literacy and peace. During a ceremony in New Delhi, India, UNESCO will award the international Confucius and King Sejong literacy prizes to projects in Burundi, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the United States of America.
Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.
Part of the Millennium Development Goals, MDG2 - "Universal Education" - seeks to ensure that every human being has the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Unfortunately, too many children in the world today grow up without this chance, because they are denied their basic right to even attend primary school.
A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task account for this unmet goal.
Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels - locally, nationally and internationally.
Since its foundation in 1946, UNESCO has been at the forefront of global literacy efforts and is dedicated to keeping literacy high on national, regional and international agendas. However, with some 793 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all remains an elusive target.
Launched at UN Headquarters in 2003 the General Assembly proclaimed the ten year period beginning 1 January 2003 the United Nations Literacy Decade. At the request of the UN General Assembly, UNESCO is coordinating the Decade and its international activities.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
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