Literacy and Sustainable Societies

The theme of International Literacy Day 2015 is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Literacy is a key driver for sustainable development. Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, required for creating sustainable societies. At the same time, progress in areas of sustainable development, such as health and agriculture, serves as an enabling factor in the promotion of literacy and literate environments.  

New technologies, including mobile telephones, also offer fresh opportunities for literacy for all. We must invest more, and I appeal to all Members States and all our partners to redouble our efforts – political and financial – to ensure that literacy is fully recognized as one of the most powerful accelerators of sustainable development. The future starts with the alphabet.   

UNESCO Director-General

This year’s celebration of International Literacy Day, therefore, will be dedicated to exploring critical links and synergy between literacy and the future Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

As in previous years, International Literacy Day 2015 will be celebrated worldwide, bringing together governments, multi-and bi-lateral organizations, NGOs, the private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts.

A main global celebration will take place at UNESCO Headquarters, where a two-day event on Literacy and Sustainable Societies (8-9 September 2015) will be organized to prepare the ground for renewed literacy efforts by countries and partners in the post-2015 era. On 8 September, 2015 a ceremony will be held to award the 2015 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes 



International Literacy Day is being celebrated around the world. Here is a selection of projects and events taking place in honour of September 8.

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Algeria: Algerian Literacy Association (IQRAA )

As part of the International Literacy Day celebrations, the Algerian Literacy Association (IQRAA )will: award the “Ooredoo Literacy Prize”, co-organised by IQRAA and Ooredoo Algérie; inaugurate a “Women’s literacy, training and integration” centre in Ouled Yahia Khadrouche, Jijel; and launch an awareness-raising campaign in Jijel titled “A school for all from 6 to 16". More

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The Government of Bangladesh observed International Literacy Day (ILD) through various events across the country. At the national level, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME) and the Bureau of Non-Formal Education (BNFE) launched the celebrations in Dhaka during an event attended by the country’s Prime Minister, Ms Sheikh Hasina. 100,000 posters were produced to disseminate the ILD message (one designed by UNESCO and another by MOPME). An ILD brochure was also prepared for the celebrations and disseminated widely. Later in the month, a roundtable discussion, organised by MOPME and BNFE, will take place to discuss the promotion of literacy and the need for comprehensive government and NGO strategies to work towards sustainable societies. More

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Brussels, Belgium: European Literacy Week – to be launched on 8 September

The European Literacy Network (ELINET) will launch Literacy Week in Europe on 8 September with a view to raising awareness of the literacy-related challenges faced in the region, and to taking steps towards ensuring that every European adult can read and write well enough to fully and independently participate in society. More

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Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, International Literacy Day will be celebrated in Kaya, under the guidance of the Minister of National Education and Literacy. The focus will be on giving visibility to educational activities in the country. In addition, a conference took place on 7 September under the theme of International Literacy Day 2015: Literacy and Sustainable Societies. September 8 will be devoted to a remembrance ceremony. The heads of the central and decentralised structures of the Ministry of Education and Literacy, partner ministries, operators in non-formal education, NGOs and associations, as well as representatives of bilateral and multilateral organisations will be participating in the events. More

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Brasilia, Brazil: UNESCO International Literacy Day Event

Together with the Ministry of Education of Brazil, the UNESCO Office in Brasilia will organise a series pf activities to celebrate International Literacy Day. They will also serve to highlight a lifelong learning programme the Brazilian Government is developing in partnership with the UNESCO Office in Brasilia. (coming soon)

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Prey Veng Province: International Literacy Day Event, “Literacy Contributes to Reduce Migrants at Risk.”

Cambodia will celebrate by holding a national event in the Prey Veng province, under the theme "Literacy Contributes to Reducing Migrants at Risk."  The Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), MoEYS leaders, a UNESCO representative from Phnom Penh, the Prey Veng Governor, ministries, NGOs, local authorities, students, literacy learners, and teachers will be attending the event where 30 learners who have excelled in literacy will be awarded prizes. In addition, all TV stations will broadcast news on the special day from 6 to 8 September and 25 different provinces around the country will hold their own events. More

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In Egypt, in the framework of the International Literacy Day celebrations, the Adult Network for Literacy and Adult Education will launch, and draw attention to, a series of activities carried out by civil society organisations. It will also hold an event on improving female literacy and lifelong learning with the support of the German Development Agency. In collaboration with the UNESCO Office in Beirut, discussions will also be held on the 2015-2025 plan to eradicate adult illiteracy.

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In celebration of International Literacy Day, the Finnish Refugee Council has organized a reading challenge that started on 8 September and will go on for the whole autumn semester. School children will collect funds by finding sponsors (parents, relatives, etc.) who will contribute a certain amount of money for each article or paper that they read. The funds collected will help fund the literacy work of the Refugee Council. In addition, there was a Literacy Day event at Lukukeskus on 9 September to help highlight the meaning and importance of reading. more

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Nationwide, France: National Days of Action against Illiteracy

After the success of the first series of National Days of Action against Illiteracy in 2014, where 160 official events were held across France, the country’s National Agency to Fight against Illiteracy (ANLCI – Agence Nationale de Lutte Contre L’Illetrisme) will launch the 2015 edition of the initiative on International Literacy Day (8 - 13 September). Activities will include “open door” events, exhibitions, debates, presentations, concerts, screenings and visits, and will take place in both Metropolitan France and the Overseas Territories. More


Lyon: Agence Nationale de Lutte Contre L’Illetrisme

On 10 September Lyon welcomes actors and other decision-makers from countries across Europe to a meeting that sets out to combat workplace illiteracy. They will launch the “Illettrisme info service” public information number for the Literacy@Work project. The main goal of the initiative is to develop and improve the quality of workplace literacy training delivered in Europe, both for first-level employees and for business performance of companies. More

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Giessen: International Literacy Day Campaign

Giessen will be hosting an International Literacy Campaign. Educational institutions of the DGB of Hessen (Federation of Trade Unions), the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers’ Welfare Association), and the Employer’s Federation will have information booths on the street from 3pm to 6pm on 8 September. The Forward Theatre group will also be a part of the campaign to actively involve the passers-by. In addition, the local media will be covering the campaign.

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Guinea Bissau

To celebrate International Literacy day was in Guinea-Bissau, 50 participants attended a conference under the ILD theme, “Literacy and Sustainable Societies”. In addition, a debate about literacy was held on a Guinea Bissau televisions channel on 8 September at 6:45 pm, and information on the debate was disseminated on national radio stations. More

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In Iran, on 7 September, to mark International Literacy Day, the regional Research Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in West and Central Asia, under the auspices of UNESCO, organised a one-day workshop on the Role of Media in Raising Awareness of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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Nairobi, Kenya: UNESCO regional event in Eastern Africa (tbc)

UNESCO’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa will organise a series of activities in Kenya and across the region to celebrate International Literacy Day. The occasion will also serve to reflect on the progress made and the work that remains to be done in respect of the corresponding Education for All goal (EFA Goal 4): “Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults”. More

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Mozambique: Ministry of Education and Human Development with the support of the UNESCO National Office to Mozambique

The Government of Mozambique celebrates International Literacy Day across the country on a yearly basis, while there is also a national high-level ceremony to mark the occasion (this year, said ceremony will take place in Sanga, Niassa, with the participation of the Vice-Minister of Education).


The UNESCO eAtlas of Literacy lets you explore and adapt maps, charts and ranking tables for indicators covering the youth, adult and elderly populations.

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In Mali, International Literacy Day will be marked by the inauguration of a literacy programme for young workers from urban communities. Youth manual workers, daily workers and job seekers will be the main sub-groups targeted by the initiative. More

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In celebration of International Literacy Day 2015, the Kathmandu office, in collaboration with the Non Formal Education Center, is organizing a series of events .The activities will be carried out throughout the month of August and early September to raise awareness on the importance and challenges of achieving literacy for all in Nepal. More

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The UNESCO team in Niger celebrated International Literacy Day by organizing a panel discussion with technical and financial partners, as well as the private sector, to discuss how to finance literacy for all. In addition, ILD was featured in a local newspaper, GANGA, and information on the Day was disseminated through a series of ILD flyers. ILD T-shirts, caps, and banners were distributed as well. More

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Niger, Niamey

 Niger; Niamey Round Table 

International Literacy Day will be celebrated, for the 49th year in a row, in the capital of Niger, Niamey, on 7 September 2015. The day, supported by the head of the government, will feature a round table of partners on the financing of literacy and will bring together the sectoral ministries, NGOs and associations and members of the private sector. In addition, the Ministry of Literacy has organised a number of campaigns and will distribute various items including hats and tee-shirts.

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In Rwanda an article on International Literacy Day featured in a Rwandan national newspaper, the New Times, while the local UNESCO team issued a press release on education’s central role in Rwanda’s development . More

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In Senegal, the International Literacy Day celebrations will take place in the framework of the 40th edition of the country’s National Literacy Week, from 8 to 14 September. This year, the national event will be launched by the commune of Keur Massar. A number of activities will take place at local, regional and national level. More

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Khartoum, Sudan: UNESCO International Literacy Day Event

The UNESCO Office in Khartoum, together with Sudan’s UNESCO National Commission, the country’s Ministry of Education, the National Council of Literacy and Adult Education and UNICEF will organise an event underlining the work done to promote and advance literacy in the country. More

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United States of America

New York, USA: United Nations Headquarters (tbc)

The new sustainable development agenda will be adopted at the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this September. In the framework of the meeting, an International Literacy Day event will take place at the UN’s headquarters in New York to raise the visibility of the challenges in the field, as well as providing a space for reflection on possible plans of action for and partnerships among the members of the international community. More

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On the occasion of International Literacy Day, UNESCO’s team in Vietnam and the country’s Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) supported a national literacy workshop on 8 September, in Hanoi. The event was organized by the Vietnam Association for Learning Promotion.  The conference promoted the development of an educated society where everyone is able to pursue lifelong and continuous learning in a bid to enhance production capability, economic growth and sustainable development. The MOET is also helping local governments conduct communication campaigns to enhance community awareness of education, with a focus on ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups. More


  • Literacy and Sustainable Societies

    8-9 September, Paris, France

    Agenda (PDF)

    Communiqué on Literacy and Sustainable Societies

    Outcome document of the UNESCO Global Meeting

    Infographic 2015