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International Literacy Day 8 September 2013 by Mind Map: International Literacy Day 8 September 2013
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International Literacy Day 8 September 2013

Literacy facts

Human right

Tool of personal empowerment

Means for social and human development

Core of education

Essential for

Literacy milestones

1946: Establishment of Education Committee

UNESCO establishes an Education Committee focusing on the promotion of‘Fundamental Education’ which is later developed into an action programme. The notion of fundamental education introduces a broader concept of education, which recognizes that while not everyone can access formal schooling, each person should have the right to knowledge and skills as essential conditions for living better lives.

1957: World Illiteracy at Mid-century report

UNESCO issues the ‘World Illiteracy at Mid-century’report, the first attempt to present statistical evidence on the extent of illiteracy in every country and territory of the world.

1958: UNESCO Courier on literacy

UNESCO publishes an issue of the UNESCO Courier on literacy, featuring selected writings from well-known experts of the time who expose the scale of the problem and the challenges the world faces.

1965: Concept of functional literacy is introduced

On the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers on the Eradication of Illiteracy, the concept of functional literacy is introduced. This concept views literacy as a means for development that gains a functional role and becomes an integral part of the development process and not just an end in itself. This approach is integrated into several UNESCO programmes, notably the Experimental World Literacy Programme (1967-1973), jointly led with UNDP.

1975: International Symposium for Literacy and adoption of Persepolis Declaration

UNESCO conducts the International Symposium for Literacy and adopts the Persepolis Declaration. Literacy is proclaimed to be not just “the process of learning the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, but a contribution to the liberation of man and to his full development”.

1990: International Literacy Year

Proclaimed International Literacy Year by the UN General Assembly based on a decision adopted in December 1987, this year gives impetus to UNESCO to highlight the critical role of literacy in the World Declaration on Education for All and the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs adopted by the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, 1990).

2000: Dakar Framework for Action

The international community adopts the Dakar Framework for Action at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, convened by UNESCO. The Organization is mandated to coordinate global efforts in meeting six goals which recognize the fundamental role of literacy. The two principal goals are meeting the basic learning needs of youth and adults through the functional literacy approach and reducing adult illiteracy rates by 50%.

2003: United Nations Literacy Decade

UNESCO takes the lead of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) which envisions Literacy for All. Throughout the Decade UNESCO takes actions to increase the absolute numbers of those who are literate. The Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) is the main mechanism for reaching this objective.

Illiteracy facts

More than 774 million of the world's adults do not know how to read or write

Roughly 123 million children do not know how to read or write and are often denied access to education

South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%)

Followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%), and the Arab States (62.7%)

Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%)

About the day

Proclaimed by UNESCO in 1965

First celebrated in 1966

Aims to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies

Celebrate International Literacy Day

Learn a new word

Do a crossword puzzle

Create a personalized crossword puzzle for a friend

Play a round of Scrabble

Reread your favorite poem

Donate a book you've outgrown to a library or book exchange shelf

Ask a friend about their favorite book and tell them what you like about yours

Read a story to your children

Teach your children a poem, proverb or tongue twister you learned as a child

Buy a book at a small, independent book store

Write a letter to a friend

Sign up for "A Word a Day"