2013-09-08 15:35:45

World marks International Literacy Day

(Vatican Radio) UNESCO first declared September 8th International Literacy Day in 1946. Since then, every year this event is dedicated to promoting literacy and raising awareness around the world.
UNESCO describes literacy as “a human right, a tool of personal empowerment, and a means for social and human development”, yet it estimates that 774 million people worldwide are currently illiterate.
Giulia Cirillo spoke to Jonathan Douglas, Director of the UK’s National Literacy Trust, about the importance of International Literacy Day in raising awareness and aspirations.

Listen to the interview with Jonathan Douglas: RealAudioMP3

“I think fundamentally International Literacy Day has achieved a very significant framework for understanding the nature of literacy, not simply as a matter of school, and how good an education system is, but actually as a fundamental issue of human rights across the developing and the developed world. International Literacy Day has helped us understand that literacy isn’t simply a schools-based issue, but is actually a foundation of equality within society.

Looking across the world, there are two themes around literacy. The first is access - globally, almost 800 million adults still lack literacy skills, and frequently that’s to do with access to primary education across the world, and access to strong educational support. But there’s another story facing countries like the United Kingdom, which is one about the demand for literacy skills – so how is it you raise aspirations, how is it you actually raise people’s hopes for their futures, which makes them value literacy skills, and see literacy as a key element in their future success. Those two themes of access and aspiration really sit at the heart of tackling literacy globally at the moment.”

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