8th September- International Literacy Day

Most of us take our literacy for granted. Many of us belong to social classes and families where taking education, going to school, attending college is an obvious part of growing up. We often crib about the system, the syllabus, the teachers, institutional timings and the like, but forget how privileged we are.
Little do we realize that a big chunk of the population in the world remains largely distant from literacy. The ability to read, write, speak, do simple calculations is essential for survival and opens up a lot of doors for growth and progress in society. Unfortunately, many are unable to avail these essential skills and as a result, live in poverty and underprivileged circumstances.
It has been seen, that illiteracy has for decades been leading to social disparity, crime and oppression of certain sections of society. All countries of the world feel the pressing need to eradicate illiteracy and have been undertaking various projects at regional and international levels to achieve this objective.
With an aim to highlight the importance of literacy to societies and individuals, the idea of celebrating an International Day of Literacy was put forth in the World Conference of Ministers of Education in Tehran, Iran in September 1965.
According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the world has around 774 million adults who are illiterate. About 1 in 5 adults is not literate and two-third of the illiterate population is women. And, there are around 75 million children who do not go to school.
In 1966, during the 14th General Conference, UNESCO proclaimed September 8 as International Literacy Day, an annual celebration to be observed worldwide. The UN General Assembly also proclaimed a 10 year long period from January 1 2003 as the United Nations Literacy Decade.
Today we observe the 52nd International Literacy Day on the theme Literacy and Skills Development. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Goals adopted in September 2015 include universal access to quality education, learning opportunities for people throughout their life and literacy and numeracy for young children as well as adults. The 2018 theme Literacy and Skills Development focuses on skills and competencies required for employment, careers, and livelihoods, particularly technical and vocational skills, along with transferable skills and digital skills.
All countries have been undertaking various missions to combat illiteracy in the different continents. But we as individuals too can contribute to this objective by raising awareness about it around us.
Participate in development programs that are organized by numerous NGO’s in your area or contribute by presenting them with necessary resources like funds, space or volunteers.
Ensure that even the underprivileged children around you go to school. This may not be happening due to lack of awareness amongst parents or due to financial constraints. You can help by counselling parents and explaining the importance and need of literacy for them as well as for their children. You can also sponsor the education of kids who do not have the required finances to attend school. Do not promote or encourage child labour.
We must remember, that society can progress only when people share their resources and talents; and not when these are hoarded for a limited few.

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