International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world's remaining literacy challenges. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes, as part of its agenda, universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

 

2019 Theme: Literacy and Multilingualism

International Literacy Day 2019 is an opportunity to express solidarity with the celebrations of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages and the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Special Needs Education, at which the Salamanca Statement on Inclusive Education was adopted.  

International Literacy Day 2019 will focus on ‘Literacy and Multilingualism.’ Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist, distributed unevenly across countries and populations. Embracing linguistic diversity in education and literacy development is central to addressing these literacy challenges and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the occasion of International Literacy Day 2019, the main characteristics of multilingualism in today’s globalized and digitalized world will be discussed, together with their implications for literacy in policies and practice in order to achieve greater inclusion in multilingual contexts.   

 

Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.