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International Literacy Day                   8th September 2020



International Literacy Day is celebrated annually

on the 8th of September and serves as a

reminder to the public of the importance of

literacy at an individual and national level.

International Literacy day, which was first

declared at UNESCO’s general conference

(1996), presents an opportunity for

Governments and Civil Society to highlight

improvements in world literacy rates, reflect on

the remaining literacy challenges and advance

the literacy agenda to ensure a more literate

and sustainable society. 


According to UNESCO, 773 million people

across the globe still lack basic literacy skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted  the

education sector and inadvertently revealed the gap between policy dialogue and reality, that was prominent prior to the pandemic. Furthermore, adult literacy programmes were not prioritized in initial education response plans, negatively affecting the learning of adults who have no/low literacy skills. 


This year's theme focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” with a special focus on the role of educators, changing pedagogies and literacy learning in a lifelong perspective. 


Hence, International Literacy Day provides the opportunity to reflect on and discuss effective and innovative teaching strategies catered to youth and adults during and post COVID-19. Moreover, this day creates the opportunity to analyse the role of education, in addition creating effective policies, systems and measures that can effectively support literacy learning. 


As of April 2020, over 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school globally, negatively affecting advancements made in global education. Thus the need for modernized national education policies and the deployment of innovative solutions has become apparent. 


The Geneva Institute for Human Rights stress on the importance of eradicating global illiteracy and urges the international community to unite efforts and provide coordinated responses to promote literacy in a lifelong learning perspective. 

Furthermore, the Institute acknowledges the great role that UNESCO continues to play eradicating illiteracy, particularly its Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025), which revolves around four strategic priority areas

  1. Supporting Member States in developing national literacy policies and strategies

  2. Addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged groups, particularly women and girls;

  3. Leveraging digital technologies to expand access and improve learning outcomes;

  4. Monitoring progress and assessing literacy skills and programmes.


Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls on countries in North Africa and the Middle East to address the learning needs of the disadvantaged, including refugees, migrants and out of school youth, implement context-appropriate solutions and mobilize the political will and necessary financial resources to ensure social sustainablity, in alignment with the Sustainable Goal on Education 4 (SDG3).

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