September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It 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, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world .
Some 776 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.
According to UNESCO’s "Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2008)" , South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%), and the Arab States (62.7%). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%). The report shows a clear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women.
The celebration's theme for 2007 and 2008 was “Literacy and Health”. This was also the thematic emphasis of the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade . In particular, International Literacy Day 2008 had a strong emphasis on Literacy and Epidemics with a focus on communicable diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, some of the world's forefront public health concerns.
To raise public awareness of the extraordinary value of the written word and of the necessity to promote a literate society, the following writers are supporting UNESCO through the Writers for Literacy Initiative : Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Philippe Claudel, Paulo Coelho, Philippe Delerm, Fatou Diome, Chahdortt Djavann, Nadine Gordimer, Amitav Ghosh, Marc Levy, Alberto Manguel, Anna Moi, Scott Momaday, Toni Morrison, Erik Orsenna, Gisèle Pineau, El Tayeb Salih, Francisco Jose Sionil, Wole Soyinka, Amy Tan, Miklós Vámos, Abdourahman Waberi, Wei Wei, Banana Yoshimoto. Not only writers contribute to raising awareness to the problem of illiteracy. Next to the writers engagement, there are various companies and charity organizations that support the fight against illiteracy. Another supporter of the common goal to help underprivileged children around the world to learn how to read and write is Montblanc. The company, known for its manufacturing of handwriting instruments, has launched various initiatives to support UNICEF’s educational programmes. On the World Literacy Day 2009, Montblanc will auction off 12 portraits of famous actresses to the benefit of UNICEF. Upfront, the portraits travel around the world. Fans and collectors are allowed to view them and to place silent bids. Each portrait is individually signed by the depicted star and will finally be auctioned on September 8 , 2009.
by , translated by Haile Selassie I Press
|Speech of September 10, 1971|
Today marks International Literacy Day which is being observed for the fifth time through the aegis of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We have explained in the past its aims and objectives.
We take this opportune time to stress anew the importance of education and to urge those engaged in the field to strive harder still and those who have to learn to redouble their efforts.
Education is the key to success for every citizen, who is expected to serve his country with the dictates of the time. this service will be more fruitful if it is backed by education.
We can cite as an example here the role of science and technology in agriculture, for through better seeds and fertilizers harvests have been greatly improved and increased.
As We have always noted in the past education is the key to the success and development of Our people and We urge all to strive for higher education. On its part, Our government has never ceased from encouraging or contributing its share.
Mankind, be it in past, present of future, has always been judged not by color, or creed, but by the wealth of its knowledge. It is only through learning and knowledge that one can give valuable service of benefit to a country, and it is with this in mind that We have always urged and encouraged the young and the adult to learn. In this connection the adult education programme, launched through the co-operation of government and private agencies, has achieved much since its inceptions, taking into consideration the time required to introduce and publicize the programme.
We are aware that more than a million persons have learned to read and write, throwing off the bonds of illiteracy. this is indeed a great blessing and an example for others to follow by not wasting their spare time idly.
At this juncture We would like to recall what We said a few years ago, namely, never despair of learning lest knowledge bypass you. True education is not only beneficial to individuals but also to one's country. True education goes hand in hand with one's culture and heritage and strengthens one's belief in God Almighty.
The young and the adult will not be a burden to their country, if they strive for education and that is why all should eagerly seek learning.
Educational programmes follow the dictates of the times. Academic education is not enough, it should be augmented by other practical learning taking into consideration the needs of everyday life. This additional learning can be acquired through books and magazines or it can be incorporated into educational curricula.
The vocational-oriented training programmes launched in Chilalo, Arussi Governorate, and in Wollano, Sidamo governorate, have given encouraging results. Plans are underway to launch similar programmes in other governorates which should be prepared to emulate them.
This adult literacy programme being carried out by the National Literacy Campaign Organization with the help of individuals, private and government agencies deserves the support of all. It is through such a programme that the fight against ignorance can be intensified and the consequences stemming from ignorance such as injustice and humiliation could be stamped out , thereby ensuring national development, the welfare of individuals as well as peace and prosperity among nations.
As We have said in the past, the fight against ignorance calls for global efforts. Ethiopia, which is aware of the problems, will fully participate in these world-wide efforts, and that is why this country is showing commendable results from year to year in the fight against illiteracy.
For this effort to show still better results, it is imperative that those who have had the privilege of formal education teach their less fortunate brothers and sisters. this must be done now lest one fall behind the times and regret the consequences later.
This is the age of competition, irrespective of the fields of activities, and calls for dedication, Everyone, regardless of his age, should strive to learn. It would be inconceivable for a person to appreciate the meaning of life and living itself without education. It would even be impossible for a person to utilize his God-given gifts.
We thank all those who have taken part in the National Literacy Campaign programmes as well as those who have benefited from these programmes, and We commend the former, for what they did was in accord with their national obligation.
We would also like to thank on this day UNESCO, the various private and governmental agencies, individuals and association for their efforts and financial contributions in the fight against illiteracy. Our appreciations also go to the Shah of Iran and the Government of the Soviet Union for providing moral and financial support to the world-wide campaign against illiteracy providing international prizes annually through UNESCO to outstanding national literacy efforts.
We urge boy scouts and children in Ethiopia to take an active part in this noble effort of teaching others as of the present academic year. We also urge officials in the various governorates to impress upon the people the importance of the literacy campaign in accordance with the directives issued in the past by our Minister of Interior. We pray to the Almighty to bless Our efforts.
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