Every year on 08 September, people throughout the world celebrate International Literacy Day to draw attention to the value of reading and writing and to shed light on the ways in which literacy can help solve pressing global problems.
In 1966, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) designated 08 September as International Literacy Day.
The goal of celebrating International Literacy Day is to bring attention to the positive effects of increased literacy rates on communities, societies, and individuals around the world.
This year, Unesco and other organisations are examining the evolving meaning of “rapid shifts” in light of the Coronavirus pandemic that halted global commerce and claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people in 2020.
Data from Unesco suggests that following the epidemic, approximately 24 million students may never return to formal education, with 11 million of those students expected to be girls and young women.
According to the Unesco website, this year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide under the theme, ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces’ and will be an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all.
At the global level, a two-day hybrid international event was organised for 08 and 09 September 2022, in Côte d’Ivoire. The International Literacy Day global celebration lies at the heart of regional, country and local levels. As such, this year’s outstanding programmes and literacy practices will be announced through the 2022 Unesco International Literacy Prizes award ceremony.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of Unesco, was quoted as saying International Literacy Day is an opportunity to assess progress and spur momentum towards celebrating literacy as an essential human right that plays a fundamental role within societies.
“Indeed, to quote the Brazilian intellectual and educator Paulo Freire, who dedicated much of his life to adult education, literacy should be ‘the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world’,” Azoulay said.
She further said in 1979, only 68 per cent of the world’s population knew how to read and write. In 2020, this figure had risen to 86.7 per cent. Despite this progress, 771 million youth and adults around the world still do not possess basic literacy skills – 60 per cent of whom are girls and women.
The latest figures from the World Bank indicate that Namibia’s literacy rate for adults (people aged 15 and above) stood at 92 per cent in 2018.
For the youth (ages 15 to 24) in Namibia, the literacy rate was slightly higher at 95 per cent.