International Literacy Day 2021 – History, Basic Benefits and Theme Explanation

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Who Started Literacy Day?


International Literacy Day is an annual international observance observed on September 8th that was established by UNESCO on October 26, 1966, at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference.

For the first time, it was observed in 1967. Its goal is to emphasize the value of education to individuals, communities, and societies. Celebrations are held in a number of countries.

Literacy’s Importance in Economic Development

When students have higher learning levels, our economy benefits. Learning skills that are effective open the door to more educational and employment opportunities, allowing people to lift themselves out of poverty and chronic underemployment. To keep up with the pace of change in our increasingly complex and rapidly changing technological world, individuals must constantly broaden their knowledge and learn new skills.

Poor literacy, on the other hand, can put some people and social groups at risk of exclusion. Youth crime rates are a good example of this, as they are directly related to poor economic and social outcomes. People with adequate literacy skills have better health because they can understand and interpret health information.

They are better able to communicate clearly with their medical caregivers, learn and practice preventive health practices, detect problems earlier so they can be treated, and make appropriate choices among health care options. They are also more capable of communicating with their children’s teachers and assisting their children with their schoolwork.

A literate community is a dynamic community; a community that exchanges ideas and engages in dialogue is more innovative and productive. The exchange of ideas, perspectives, and concerns leads to increased mutual understanding and caring, and, ultimately, a strong sense of community.

6 Basic Benefits



Former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova

Literacy is an universal human right that is part of education. Nonetheless, according to UNESCO, there are 781 million illiterate adults (over the age of 15) worldwide. Women account for more than 63 percent of those adults. Literacy rates in countries such as Niger are as low as 24%.

Fundamental human rights are, well, fundamental. These figures are also significant because literacy (and numeracy) is one of the most important components of eradicating extreme poverty. “The future begins with the alphabet,” said former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in 2015.

The following are Six advantages of literacy as a tool for breaking the cycle of poverty.

1. Literacy Benefits Health

Literate patients also have an easier time following their doctors’ instructions, and literacy is an important benefit during a health crisis. Being able to read meant the difference between life and death during the West African Ebola epidemic and the major Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

A study conducted in Bolivia in 2002 found that women who participated in a literacy program were more likely to seek medical attention for themselves and their children when necessary. They were also more likely to use preventive health measures such as immunization. A similar study in Nepal linked increased literacy to changes in attitudes toward family planning.

This is still happening during the global COVID-19 pandemic: With so much misinformation about the novel coronavirus, one of the most effective and least expensive responses we have is education, which includes educating our communities on prevention, symptoms, and what to do if they require treatment. Literacy is one of the key tools in keeping communities safe and healthy, as evidenced by the creation and distribution of posters, leaflets, and other materials in all 23 countries where concern works.

2. Education Promotes “Knowledge Acquisition” And Skill Development

Literacy and numeracy are required for a more comprehensive education. Students who struggle to read (often as a result of language barriers in the classroom) are more likely to drop out before completing a basic education. This can start a vicious cycle in which literacy rates rise as levels of completed schooling rise.

Learning is a lifelong journey, as many of us acknowledge after we graduate. The more we learn, the better we will be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world. The greater our ability to adapt, the greater our ability to continuously improve our standard of living and live longer, healthier, and more creative lives.

3. Literacy Boosts The Economy And Generates New Employment.

There are currently 192 million unemployed people worldwide. Even more people have jobs, but they are underpaid or have poor working conditions (or both). In both cases, a lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills automatically disqualifies many people from a wide range of decent jobs.

Education is a powerful anti-poverty tool. If all students in low-income countries could read at a basic level, 171 million people seem to be able to escape extreme poverty. Illiteracy has a massive cost. The World Education Foundation estimates that illiteracy costs the global economy $1.5 trillion annually.

4. Education Encourages Gender Equality

Women are the most powerful change agents in their communities, and their power grows even stronger when they can read. The gross domestic product of a country rises by an average of 3% for every 10% increase in female students. This is because literate women are more self-sufficient and involved in their communities.

According to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “every literate woman represents a victory over poverty.” They are also more likely to send their children to school (particularly their daughters).

Lenason Dinyero, a farmer and the chairman of a local fathers’ group in Malawi, works to keep young girls in school by preventing child marriage. As he explains it: “A literate generation will benefit the entire community.”

5. Education Promotes Democracy And Peace


Ban Ki-Moon, Former UN Secretary-General

Citizens who are literate are better able to follow local politics and stay informed about issues that affect their communities. They are also more likely to vote and participate in other ways in their local democracy.

Ban Ki-moon believes that illiteracy “weakens communities and undermines democratic processes through marginalization and exclusion.” These and other effects can wreak havoc on societies.”

“Illiteracy Weakens Communities and Undermines Democratic Processes through Marginalization and exclusion. These and other impacts can combine to Destabilize societies.”

Ban Ki-Moon, Former UN Secretary-General

6. Education Enhances Self Esteem And Overall Living Standards


The greater a person’s freedom to communicate themselves, the greater their confidence, self-esteem, and possibility of leading a happy, healthy life.

Literacy, if nothing else, boosts self-esteem. Readers who struggle are more likely to struggle with conveying themselves verbally. This can result in anxiety, depression, or other issues that have an adverse influence on one’s overall quality of life.

The greater a person’s freedom to communicate themselves, the greater their confidence, self-esteem, and possibility of leading a happy, healthy life.

What is the Theme of Educational Day in 2021?

International Knowledgeable Day 2021 will be celebrated under the theme “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.

The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted children’s, young people’s, and adults’ learning on an unprecedented scale. It has also exacerbated pre-existing disparities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities, affecting 773 million illiterate young people disproportionally.


International Literacy Day celebrations have included specific themes in line with the goals of Education For All and other United Nations programs such as the United Nations Literacy Decade.

The celebration’s theme in 2007 and 2008 was “Literacy and Health,” and International Literacy Day 2008 had a strong emphasis on Literacy and Epidemics, with a focus on communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, some of the world’s most pressing public health concerns.

For 2009–2010, the emphasis was on “Literacy and Empowerment,” with a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. “Literacy and Peace” is the theme of the 2011–2012 celebrations.

Three ways you can help each other celebrate this special day.

1. Donate books to local classrooms

Make a book donation to a local classroom. To keep young students interested in reading, elementary school classroom libraries require new reading material on a regular basis.

2. Gift a book

Give a book as a present. Children are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings. Reading satisfies their desire to learn while also stimulating their imagination. Don’t forget that adults enjoy receiving books as gifts as well.

3. Create a lending library in your community.

Today, gather your family, friends, or neighbors and start a small lending library in your neighborhood. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, established the first “Free Little Library” in 2009 to make book sharing more accessible and available to people in his community at all times.

His “take a book, return a book” philosophy is based on the honor system. We love that these little libraries are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no late fees or fines.

To broaden ones self knowledge

Get more info

In addition, see the previous blog post about September 5th, Teacher’s Day.

Find out more

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