International Literacy Day is celebrated every year on the 8th September with the aim of highlighting the importance of literacy. On this day people from all over the world celebrate the collective contribution in spreading awareness regarding the need of learning among individuals, communities, and societies.
The day was declared on 26 October, 1966 by UNESCO is their general conference. The day came into existence because UNESCO realized that there are hundreds and millions of illiterate adults in the world and education is not just a matter of dignity but also a matter of human rights.
Every year a new theme is chosen for this day which is celebrated globally. The theme is a reflection of the direction of all the efforts that are made in order to educate people residing in different countries. Given below is a list of themes for the International Literacy Day as observed in the last 5 years:
1. Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond (2020)
International Literacy Day 2020 theme focuses on highlighting the importance of lifelong learning in youths and adults. Also, this year’s theme emphasises on the role of educators as well as the new methodologies of teaching that have come into practice.
The pandemic has negatively affected those who have no or low literacy skills, UNESCO wants to bridge this gap between the policy discourse and reality. This year’s virtual conference will aim at innovating strategies that can be used in order to reach out and educate more people.
2. Literacy and Multilingualism (2019)
The theme in 2019 was all about embracing linguistic diversity. Due to increased mobility in search of jobs or a better standard of living, the importance of multilingualism emerged. It is a rather common concept these days since societies are more inclusive of other cultures and their view points.
Globalization and digitization influence various aspects of the society such as socio-economic, cultural as well as political, these in turn greatly impact the education sector. In order to achieve maximum result in the quest to have a literate world, efforts to promote literacy in a multilingual context are necessary.
3. Literacy and Skills Development (2018)
Education and training strategies definitely required changes with the changes in the labour market and the nature of work – driven by technological developments, globalization, large-scale migration and so on. The rate of unemployment or underemployment is almost at par with the rate at which new job opportunities are emerging.
In such a situation education alone may not help people survive, they will also require vocational skills that can help them be a part of the fast moving industries and their skill based requirements. In 2018, UNESCO focused on imparting skill development by providing technical and vocational skill training to those who do not have learning opportunities.
4. Literacy in a Digital World (2017)
One of the core benefits of rise in technology was that a new platform emerged for reading and learning which can easily be accessed by people in different locations all around the world. Digital literacy is a measure of beginner level skills required in a technological ecosystem that is constantly changing. There is a large gap in digital literacy between the poor countries and the rich countries.
The places where digital literacy rate is low are unable to utilize computers and mobile phones at homes or schools in order to access online educational material. In 2017, UNESCO focused on providing basic computer literacy to enhance the experiences of individuals by introducing them to the source of unlimited online education.
5. Reading the Past, Writing the Future (2016)
In 2016 we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the International Literacy Day. This year was dedicated to understand and analyse how literacy has evolved over the years. In order to educate more people it is necessary to study the result of various actions and undertakings from the past. This knowledge from the previous years will then help determine the future agenda with the goal of highlighting the importance of literacy for all.
Before 2016 more themes were introduced, each with a new direction towards a better, bright and a literate future of the world. Some of the most effective themes were Education for All, Literacy and Health, Literacy and Pandemic, Literacy and Empowerment and so on. Various countries and enthusiasts volunteer every year to make a change and contribute to the common goal of enhancing the world literacy rate. We all hope to do our part in the quest.