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




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

    Programme (Draft)

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    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

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    LUNCH BREAK (13:00-14:00)

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

    • 14:00-16:00 -  Policies, programmes, funding, monitoring, institutional strengthening, multi-stakeholder partnerships
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    SESSION 3: PLENARY (16:30-1800)

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

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    More Information

Infographic 2014




Message from the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova (PDF) 
AR | CH | EN | FR | RU SP |

Celebrations around the world

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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

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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) 

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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

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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! .

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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