This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. On 8 September, 2017 a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

The 2017 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes awards ceremony will also take place to recognize and reward excellent literacy practices from around the world in connection with this year’s theme and as a key target in Sustainable Development Goal 4.


History of International Literacy Day 

The International Literacy Day was decided by the UNESCO at 7th of November in the year 1965 to celebrate it at 8th of September every year which was celebrated first time in the year 1966. It was started celebrating all over the world to emphasize the great importance of the literacy to the individuals, society and communities. The day is celebrated specially to re-memorize the status of the literacy and adult education to the international community.

International Literacy Day Celebration

According to the global monitoring report over education it is noted that one among the five men and two third women are illiterates. Some of them have minimum literacy skills, some children are still out of school and some are irregularly attending the school. South and West Asia is noted to have the lowest adult literacy rate of about 58.6%. The countries with the lowest literacy rate are Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The day is celebrated having special themes, programs and goals of education all over the world. The theme of year 2007 and 2008 celebration was the Literacy and Health (strong attention over the epidemics to prevent people from the communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, cholera and Malaria). The theme of the year 2009 and 2010 was the Literacy and Empowerment of women whereas the theme of 2011 and 2012 celebration was the Literacy and Peace.

The importance of celebrating the day is to promote the public consciousness about extraordinary value of written word and requirement to encourage the literate rate of the society. Literacy shapes the life of human beings as well as builds up their cultural identity. Note literacy does not necessary mean being literate in International languages of the world but inclusive of your mother tongue. One is literate as long as the person can read and write in which ever language the person is fluent in.

Why International Literacy Day is celebrated

Celebrating the International Literacy Day is to promote the human attention towards the literacy and know their rights for social and human development. Literacy is as important as food to be alive and success. It is a tool necessary to eradicate the poverty, lowering the child mortality, attaining the gender  complimentarity and etc. Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status. It is celebrated to encourage the people towards getting continuous education and understand their responsibilities for the family, society and the country.

International Literacy Day Themes

International Literacy Day celebration takes place on a specific theme of the year in order to make it effective by executing some strategic plan to resolve the problems related to the illiteracy all over the world in many countries. Some of the year wise themes of the International Literacy Day are mentioned below:

  • Theme for 2006 was “Literacy sustains development” to focus on achieving social progress.
  • Theme for 2007 and 2008 was “Literacy and Health” to focus on literacy and epidemics (communicable diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, etc).
  • Theme for 2009-2010 was “Literacy and Empowerment” to focus on gender equality and empowering women.
  • Theme for 2011-2012 was “Literacy and Peace” to focus on importance of literacy for peace.
  • The theme for 2013 was “Literacy for the 21st Century” to promote global literacy.
  • Theme for 2014 was “Literacy and Sustainable Development” to promote sustainable development in the areas of social development, economic growth, and environmental integration.
  • Theme for 2015 was “Literacy and Sustainable Societies”.


Human Development Reports  on Nigeria                                      %


Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) 59.6
Government expenditure on education (% of GDP) n.a.
Gross enrolment ratio: pre-primary (% of preschool-age children) 13
Gross enrolment ratio, primary (% of primary school-age population) 85
Gross enrolment ratio, secondary (% of secondary school-age population) 44
Gross enrolment ratio, tertiary (% of tertiary school-age population) n.a.
Mean years of schooling (years) 6
Population with at least some secondary education (% aged 25 and older) n.a.
Primary school dropout rate (% of primary school cohort) 20.7
Primary school teachers trained to teach (%) 66
Pupil-teacher ratio, primary school (number of pupils per teacher) 38

These UNDP statistics do not come to us as surprise. The question on everyone lips is when would our government stop paying lip service to the Education Sector. It is very strange that the 2016 UNDP Human Development Reports could not access the actual expenditure of Education in Nigeria. A very sad situation indeed.


This is why Myschoolarena is poised towards creating an enabling environment for all stakeholders in this sector by engaging them in practical ways to ensure high standard of education, teachers personal and professional learning, inclusive cognitive and affirmative learning techniques within our school system.

We hope that with little drops of efforts will soon be comparable with Finland and Poland whose literacy rate for both primary and secondary is an average 103%  while the average of their government expenditure on education is 9.7%.

Need I say more?


UNDP Human Development Reports

UNESCO: International Literacy Day


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