08.09.2011 - UNESCO Office in Ha Noi

International Literacy Day 2011


Ha Noi, 8 September – First celebrated in 1966, International Literacy Day was proclaimed by UNESCO to remind the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning across the world. This year’s celebration recognizes the link between literacy and peace. On the occasion, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, states that: “Literacy is a prerequisite for peace because it carries multiple benefits, cutting across the human, cultural, social, political and economic spheres.”

Worldwide in 2009, 793 million adults were unable to read or write, roughly two thirds of them women. This reflects a global adult literacy rate of 83 per cent. In his message on the Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the tremendous costs of illiteracy, while stressing that committing to ensuring all people can read and write “will enhance inherent individual dignity and advance the universal goal of peace”.

In Viet Nam, the celebration provides a chance to reflect on the country’s impressive progress in improving literacy and in moving to meet the Education For All Millennium Development Goal by 2015. The Government of Viet Nam is strongly committed to education. According to the 2009 Census, the net enrolment rates in primary and lower secondary education were 95.5 per cent and 82.6 per cent. While the literacy rate of the population aged 15 and over was 93.5 per cent, the literacy rate of the nine smallest ethnic minority groups aged 15 and over is 56.9 per cent. The United Nations in Viet Nam is working to reach the remaining unreached to achieve true universal access for all Vietnamese.

International Literacy Day coincides with Viet Nam’s own literacy campaign, launched on the same date in 1945, on the occasion of the national enrolment day. For the first time in Viet Nam, the Ministry of Education and Training, in collaboration with the National Learning Promotion Association, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the UN in Viet Nam, and civil society and international organizations will organize a Lifelong Learning Week in early October. These celebrations will further promote learning throughout all stages of life. Literacy is the foundation and a powerful tool to build a learning society.

8 September this year also marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of the Research Centre for Literacy and Continuing Education at the Viet Nam Institute for Educational Sciences. The Centre has been an exemplary institution with its tireless efforts to improve the literacy cause in the country. It was awarded an Honourable Mention by UNESCO in 1997 for its contributions.

Looking ahead, the Vietnamese Government states that its priorities include the provision and enhancement of literacy programmes. Efforts will specifically target learners aged fifteen and up, females and ethnic minority groups in mountainous and disadvantaged areas. This will contribute to a more socially inclusive society in Viet Nam and to the promotion of peace across borders.

For more information, please contact:

Sun Lei
Programme Coordinator in Education
Tel: (84-4) 7470275 (Ext 21)
Fax: (84-4) 7470274
Email: l.sun(at)unesco.org

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