The international community has committed to improving global literacy rates, in keeping with the Education for All goals agreed in Dakar in 2000, especially Goal 4 (a 50 per cent improvement in adult literacy rates by the year 2015), but also Goal 3 (meeting the learning needs of all young people and adults) and Goal 5 (achieving gender equality in education), as well as with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In order to meet this commitment, UNESCO promotes:
- Literacy for empowerment - not what literacy can do for people but rather what people can do with literacy;
- Literacy for lifelong learning - literacy as a continuous process that requires sustained learning through application and a rich literate environment;
- Literacy and learning societies – programmes providing literacy skills which enable citizens to actively participate in public life.
UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD), 2003-2012, launched by the UN General Assembly. The UNLD emphasizes the goal of literacy for all people of all ages, in all regions of the world, in rural and urban areas, in school and out-of-school, within families, communities and the work place.