Literacy and Sustainable Development

The theme of International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”.  Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. Literacy is a basis for lifelong learning and plays a crucial foundational role in the creation of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies. 

Literacy skills developed from a basic to advanced level throughout life are part of broader competencies required for critical thinking, the sense of responsibility, participatory governance, sustainable consumption and lifestyles, ecological behaviours, biodiversity protection, poverty reduction, and disaster risk reduction.  

This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide. A main global celebration will take place in Dhaka, where the Government of Bangladesh in cooperation with UNESCO will organize the International Conference on “Girls’ and women’s literacy and education: Foundations for sustainable development and the awarding of UNESCO Literacy Prizes” in support for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).

  Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.    

Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Poster 2014

Download the Poster (PDF) 
EN | FR | SP | AR | RU | CH

Why is Literacy important?

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. There are good reasons why literacy is at the core of Education for All (EFA).

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.


Starting from 2003, when UNESCO took the lead of the the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012), and going back to 1946, when UNESCO first established a committee to promote ‘Fundamental Education’, review the major milestones on the road to Literacy for All. More

Celebrations around the world

Show all / Hide all

fold faq

International Literacy Day (UNESCO Bangkok )

Journey of a Community Learning Centre Soldier

For those living outside of the reach of formal education systems in Asia-Pacific, the approximately 170,000 community learning centers (CLCs) in the region represent their best – and often only – hope of an education.

Literacy lightens lives in Afghanistan

Rafi-u-llah, a patrol officer in Afghanistan’s Laghman province, says that his inability to read was a source of shame that kept him from performing even simple duties such as giving directions.

fold faq

Reading and writing competition among neoliterates (UNESCO Kathmandu)

As a part of celebrating International Literacy Day, the Tilaurakot Community Learning Centre is organizing "Reading and writing competition" for neoliterates.
The competition will be held in Awadhi language. The Centre has been conducting literacy classes in Awadhi language through a literacy book "Mathani" prepared and published in Awadhi language prepared in technical support of UNESCO.

fold faq

Día Internacional de la Alfabetización (UNESCO La Habana)

La actividad conmemorativa, auspiciada en la isla por la Universidad de Ciencias Pedagógicas “Enrique José Varona” y la Oficina Regional de Cultura para América Latina y el Caribe de la UNESCO, con sede en La Habana, estará dedicada este año al insigne pedagogo cubano Raúl Ferrer, quien tuvo una destacada participación en la Gran Campaña desarrollada en 1961, que permitió erradicar el analfabetismo en ese país y sentó las bases para una verdadera revolución en materia educativa. Más

fold faq

Celebrating International Literacy Day in Cambodia (UNESCO Phnom Penh)

Everyone has rights to literacy and lifelong learning. For more than 65 years, UNESCO has worked with national governments around the world to ensure that literacy remains a development priority. More

fold faq

International Literacy Day 2014 in the Sahel countries (UNESCO Dakar)

International Literacy Day, celebrated every year on 8 September, is an occasion to promote the importance of literacy. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. This year's theme is Literacy and Sustainable Development.

In the countries covered by UNESCO's Regional Office in Dakar, International Literacy Day is mostly celebrated through week-long events. It is a great opportunity to engage in a national dialogue on literacy. With the exception of Cabo Verde, more than half of all adults are illiterate in the countries covered by UNESCO Dakar. Celebration events include

fold faq

UNESCO Santiago de Chile

Inclusive programme wins 2014 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for Ecuador
Basic education for youth and adults project (EBJA). See Press release

fold faq


This Year, the International Literacy Day is being organized by the Ministry of Education jointly with its partners. During several meetings conducted for preparing this day, they have decided to extend it to International Literacy Week, for  sensitizing all Rwandan (Children in schools, out of school Youth , Adult, parents,...) to develop a reading culture. 

Message in Kinyarwanda (mother tongue) 

fold faq

New Zealand

Literacy, numeracy and sustainable development in Aotearoa New Zealand

The National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults is Aotearoa New Zealand’s national centre of specialist expertise, promoting literacy and numeracy across the country.  This year they focusing especially on literacy and numeracy for a sustainable future. More

fold faq


International Literacy Day (8 Sept) is right around the corner and we have organized a very simple way and meaningful way to have the children benefiting from EiE around the country participate in a literacy activity--which will also help us amplify their voices! .




  • International Conference and UNESCO Literacy Awards Ceremony, 8 September, Dhaka

    Programme (Draft)

    Show all / Hide all

    fold faq


    fold faq


    fold faq

    SESSION: PLENARY (11:00-13:00 )

    Panel discussion on the global literacy challenge and the importance of focusing on girls and women's literacy and education for sustainable development

    fold faq

    LUNCH BREAK (13:00-14:00)

    fold faq

    SESSION 2: PARALLEL SESSIONS (14:00-16:00)

    • 14:00-16:00 -  Policies, programmes, funding, monitoring, institutional strengthening, multi-stakeholder partnerships
    fold faq

    SESSION 3: PLENARY (16:30-1800)

    16:30-1800 - Reporting from the groups and charting the way forward

    fold faq


    fold faq


    More Information

Infographic 2014





The Dhaka Declaration

  • The Dhaka Declaration (PDF)
    This was adopted  through the Dhaka Declaration on 8 September 2014. Stressing the importance of a holistic approach to literacy and sustainable development, the Declaration outlines recommended measures to accelerate progress, and urges the integration of literacy and lifelong learning into the post-2015 development agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals.