September 14, 2016
This post originally appeared in the UN News Centre.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today kicked off a two-day event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day with a reminder of literacy’s power to realise the goals of the new global agenda.
“Literacy is essential for the success of the new global agenda. It provides men and women with skills to shape the world according to their dreams and aspirations,” UNESCO’s Director-General Irena Bokova told the two-day anniversary event, titled Reading the Past, Writing the Future, which is also this year’s theme for the Day.
“In a world under pressure, literacy is a source of dignity and rights. In a world changing quickly, literacy is the foundation for inclusive and resilient societies,” she said. “Literacy is a transformational force, to combat poverty, to advance gender equality, to improve family health, to protect the environment, to promote democratic participation.”
Worldwide there are 758 million adults who cannot read or write a simple sentence, two thirds of them women and with the greatest bottlenecks to progress in Africa, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.