It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Happy World Literacy Day Everyone! It has been long established that a higher literacy rate leads to a reduced poverty rate, increased lifespan and better quality of life, and today is devoted to the discussion of literacy strategies worldwide. The organization responsible for literacy day, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), was formed as a joint venture by 37 countries at the end of WW2 with the mission to “establish the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”. Since then , the organization has gone on to achieve many milestones in the areas of literacy, education, poverty reduction and research. Their mission statement has developed over the years, but their focus on education for the betterment of mankind as a whole has not. This years’ World Literacy Day theme is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”, and will have special focus on education for women and girls globally as a mechanism for sustainable change.
So, with world leaders meeting today to talk about reading, what can we do? First of all, visit www.unesco.org to learn more about this amazing organization and the programs they run. But also take a moment today to realize how lucky we are to live in a place where reading is a right, a given, even a chore to some. This is not the case around the world, where literacy rates dip below 50% in many countries. Pick up a book, a magazine, the back of a cereal box. Read to a kid (or a cat), donate to a reading charity. Cherish what you have been given.
As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova so eloquently puts it today is “an opportunity to remember a simple truth: literacy not only changes lives, it saves them”.