September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965 and was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year since 1966, UNESCO has reminded the international community of the status and importance of literacy and adult learning globally.
This year the theme is "Literacy and Sustainable Development". Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.
We often take literacy for granted and do so at our peril. This day reminds us that many people in the world are actually denied this basic human right and that some have to risk their lives in order to get an education. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is a basis for lifelong learning and plays a crucial foundational role in the creation of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies.
Literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet the challenge of the demands of a growing global population and the need to protect the environment.