Literacies for the 21st Century
Literacy is a right and a foundation for lifelong learning, better well-being and livelihoods. As such it is a driver for sustainable and inclusive development.
Over the years, the notion of literacy has evolved. The conventional concept limited to reading, writing and numeracy skills is still in wide use, as well as the notion of functional literacy which links literacy with socio-economic development. But other ways of understanding “literacy” or “literacies” have emerged to address the diverse learning needs of individuals in knowledge-oriented and globalized societies.
Why do people need literacy skills? How is literacy shaped by culture, history, language, religion and socio-economic conditions? What are the impacts of technological advancement on literacy? Is it possible to determine in a diverse world a minimum set of basic literacy skills?
This year’s International Literacy Day is dedicated to “literacies for the 21st century” to highlight the need to realize “basic literacy skills for all” as well as equip everyone with more advanced literacy skills as part of lifelong learning.
Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the twenty-first century. We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General
About the Day
For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day by reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.
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
- UNESCO Literacy Website
- UIL: policy brief on "Improving the Status of Literacy Teaching Personnel
- UIS: International Literacy Day 2013
Interviews with Laureates
- Interview with the Family Literacy program (FLY) in Hamburg - Laureate of the UNESCO 2010 Prize for Literacy
- Interview with the collectif Alpha Ujuvi (Congo Republic) - laureate of the UNESCO 2011 Confucius Prize for Literacy
- Interview with room to Read - laureate of the UNESCO 2011 Confucius Prize for Literacy
- Interview with Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology (Video)
Celebrations around the world
- Press Release (UNESCO South Sudan)
- UNESCO Kabul Celebrates International Literacy Day
- UIL’s LitBase features 2013 UNESCO International Literacy Prize Winners
- Int. Literacy Day 2013: Testimonies from a village in Senegal (UNESCO Dakar)
- Adult and Youth Education: Eight Latin American countries aim to reach agreement on quality curriculum (UNESCO Santiago)
- Three Japanese NGOs are planning a seminar on 6 September (ACCU) (only in japanese)
- Literacy for all remains an elusive goal, new UNESCO data shows
- Programmes in Bangladesh, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, India and Namibia awarded UNESCO International Literacy Prizes