International Literacy Day is an international observance, and the day encourages human commitment to literacy and awareness of its rights for social and human development. This day, proclaimed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on 26th October 1966 at the 14th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, is celebrated every year on 8 September. Literacy is as vital to being alive and successful as food. Poverty must be eradicated, infant mortality minimized, population growth regulated, gender equality achieved, and so on. Literacy has the potential to increase the status of the family and hence the status of the nation. It is celebrated to enable individuals to obtain ongoing education and to recognize their obligations to the family, community, and the nation. The day is celebrated to remind the international community, according to UNESCO, of the value of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies, and of the need to step up efforts towards more literate societies. With a strong focus on epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, UNESCO and its partners support the day to underline the importance of literacy for healthier communities. The day increases people’s awareness of and concern for literacy concerns within their own communities in countries all over the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom. As a result of this increased awareness, events such as letters to the editor in newspapers, as well as news stories about questions about low literacy levels, have taken place. Other events include literacy day projects sponsored by different organizations, including reading associations, especially with regard to technology and literature.
It is noted, according to the Global Monitoring Report on Education, that one out of five men and two-thirds of women are illiterate. Some of them have minimum reading skills, some kids are already out of school and some attend school on an irregular basis. According to UNESCO’s “Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2006)”, South Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%), and Mali (19%). The report demonstrates a strong correlation between illiteracy and poverty-stricken countries, and between illiteracy and women’s prejudice. About 75 million kids are out-of-school and many more attend or drop out irregularly. Literacy, however, is also a cause for celebration on the day because the world has almost four billion literate individuals. In 1967, the first International Day of Literacy was celebrated and this event has been held for 50 years annually. In order to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of equality and human rights, and to promote the literacy agenda for a more literate and prosperous society, International Literacy celebrations have taken place annually around the world since 1967. The importance of celebrating the day is to promote public understanding of the exceptional value of the written word and the need to encourage society’s literate levels. In favor of social literacy, several businesses, charitable organizations, the Sustainable Development Research Center, Rotary International, Montblanc and the National Institute for Literacy are also active. Literacy forms people’s lives and creates their cultural identity. In line with Education For All Targets and other United Nations projects, such as the United Nations Literacy Decade, International Literacy Day celebrations have included unique themes. The celebration of International Literacy Day takes place on a particular theme of the year in order to make it successful by implementing a comprehensive strategy in many countries to address the problems related to illiteracy around the world. UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning internationally each year on the International Literacy Day.