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Essay on “International Literacy Day – 8 September ” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

International Literacy Day – 8 September 

September 8 was proclaimed as the International Literacy Day  by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  in November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated on 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies, now celebrations take place all around the world.

This annual celebration started following a recommendation of the World Conference of Minister of Education on the Eradication of  Illiteracy that met in Tehran in September 1965. The Conference recommended that 8 September, the date of the inauguration of the Conference, be proclaimed International Literacy Day and be observed worldwide.       

Each year the celebration  is going on with the aim to sensitize and mobilize international public opinion and to elicit their interest preoccupations, since its first Vernal Conference in 1946. On this day, the Director – General of UNESCO address a message to the world, appealing to individuals , organizations and  states, to demonstrate their support and solidarity for literacy and to promote non- formal education  for  all, particularly of those who have been excluded from the school system.

International Literacy Day is an occasion to give hope to the millions of women, men and children who cannot read or write even their own names. It is a timely reminder to the world about the importance of literacy for individuals, families, communities and whole societies. 

Concept of Literacy

“Literacy is not merely a cognitive skill of reading, writing and arithmetic, for literacy helps in the acquisition of leaning and life skills that, when strengthened by usage and application throughout people’s lives, lead to forms of individual, community and societal development that are sustainable,” UNESCO Director- General said in his message on the occasion of international  Literacy Day 2006.

This concept of Education for all had global reception and even the World Bank deeply appreciated this programme. “Education is a liberating force as also an evolutionary force. Which enables the individual to rise from mere materiality to superior planes of intellectual and spiritual consciousness. Education is a dialogue between past, present and the future, so that the coming generations receive the accumulated lessons of the heritage and carry it forward”.

An estimated 781 million adults live without basic literacy skills. Of whom two- thirds are women. In addition, approximately 103 million children have no access to school and are therefore no learning to read, write or count.       

According to UNESCO’s “Global Monitoring Report on Education for all (2006)”, South and West Asia have the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed b 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 in severe property, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women.

The United Nations defines illiteracy as the inability to read and write a simple sentence in any language. So, these literacy rates refer only to basic, no advanced, literacy.

Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE)

2006 celebration’s theme is “Literacy sustains development”. It emphasizes that literacy is not only a positive outcome of development processes but also a lever of change and an instrument for achieving further social progress. The 2006 celebration was combined with UNESCO’s  Literacy initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), launched on 2005, which seeks by 2015 to help reduce by half, the rate of adult illiteracy in the world. LIFE is being implemented in 35 countries with a literacy rate of less than 50 per cent or a population of more than  10 million illiterates and it is designed to further the goals of the UN Literacy Decade (2003-2012).

United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012)

The United Nations Literacy Decade 2003-2012 was launched on February 13. 2003, at the UN. Under the themes “literacy for all; voice for all, learning for  all, learning for all” the UN established this decade to mobilize national and internationals efforts to educate 860 million illiterate adults and 100 million children who have no access to schooling worldwide.

The United Nations Literacy Decade aims to extend the use of literacy to those who do not currently have access to it. Over 861 million adults are in that position, and over 113 million children are not in school and therefore not gaining access to literacy either. The Decade will focus on the needs of adults with the goal that people everywhere should be able to use literacy to communicate within their own community, in the wider society and beyond. Literacy efforts have so far failed to reach the poorest and most such populations. Under the banner of literacy for all: voice for all learning for all.

The outcome of the Decade will be locally sustainable literate environments. These environments will give people opportunities to express their ideals and views, engage in effective learning, participate in the written communication that characterizes democratic societies, and exchange knowledge with others. This will include increasingly the use of electronic media and information technologies, both as a means of self – expression and for accessing and assessing the vast stores of knowledge available today.

UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)

In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 57/254 on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and designated UNESCO as lead agency for the promotion of the Decade.

The overall goal of the DESD is to integrate the Principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education  and learning. This educational effort will encourage changes in behaviour that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environment al integrity , economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations.              

The UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Earth Summit, gave high priority in its Agenda 21 to the role of education in pursuing the kind of development that would respect and nurture  the natural environment. It focused on the process of orienting and re-orienting education in order to foster values and attitudes of respect for the environment and  envisaged ways and means of doing so.

Facts about illiteracy

  • According to UNESCO, in the world today there are about 1 billion non-literate adults.
  • This 1 billion is approximately 26 percent of the world’s adult population.
  • Women make up two – thirds of all non- literates.
  • 98 percent of all non-literates live in developing countries.
  • In the least developed countries, the overall illiteracy rate is 49 percent.
  • 52 percent of all non- literates live in India and China.
  • Africa as a continent has a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.
  • In Sub- Saharan Africa since 1980, primary school enrollment has declined, going down from 58 percent to 50 percent.
  • In all developing countries, the percentage of children aged 6-11 not attending school is 15 percent. In the least developed countries, it is 45 percent. (UNESCO 1998)

Education is the primary agent of transformation towards sustainable development. Increasing people’s capacities to transform their visions for society into a reality. Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, it also provides the applying them. The international community now strongly believes that we need to foster – through education – the values, behaviour  and lifestyles required for a sustainable future. Education has come to be seen as a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long- term future of the  economy, ecology and equity of all communities. Building the capacity for such future oriented thinking is a key task of education.

National Literacy Mission (NLM)

National Literacy Mission (NLM) was set up in May 1988, following an objective assessment of the strength and weaknesses of the  earlier programmes, and accord a new sense of urgency , seriousness and emphasis with fixed goals, clear time-frame and age specific target groups. Emphasis was laid not on mere enrolment of learners but on attainment of certain predetermined norms and parameters of literacy, numeracy, functionality and awareness along with institutionalization of post Literacy and Continuing Education in   a big way.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

The scheme of SSA evolved from the recommendations of the state Education Ministers’ Conference held in October 1998 to pursue universal elementary education in a mission mode: The Government of India Launched the scheme in 2001.

The assistance under the programme of SSA was on an 85:15 sharing arrangement between the Central Government and the state government during the Ninth Plan, at 75:25 during the Tenth Plan. And at 50: 50 thereafter.

Education is the most important element for growth and prosperity of nation. India is in the process of transforming itself into a developed nation by 2020. Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her self- respect. If the real sense of education could be realized by reach individual , and carried forward in every field of human activity, the world will be a better place to live on.

“The real difficulty is that people have no idea of what education truly is.  We assess the value of education in the same manner as we assess the value of land or of shares in the stock- exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would enable to student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. The girls, we say, do not have to  earn, so why should they be educated? As long as such education” Mhatma Gandhi said on True Education.

Literacy – Foundation of Success

It is proved today that economic success everywhere is based on educational success. And literacy is the basic building block of education. It is not just an end in itself: literacy leads to many social benefits, including improvements in standards of hygiene, reduction in infant and child mortality rates , decline in population growth rates, increase in labour productivity,  rise in civic consciousness greater political empowerment sense of national unity, as people become more aware than before of the country they belong to and the opportunities beyond their immediate horizons.                

Literacy is also a basic component of social cohesion and national identity. The foundations for a conscious and active citizenship are often laid in school literacy plays a key role in the building of democracy. Kerala provides striking example of  how higher levels of literacy lead to a more aware and informed public. Adult literacy in Kerala in nearly 100 per cent, compared to the Indian average of 52 per cent. As a result , nearly half of the adult population in Kerala reads a daily newspaper, compared to less than population in Kerala reads a daily newspaper, compared to less than 20 per cent else where in India. One out of every rural labourers reads a newspaper regularly compared to less than two per cent of    agricultural workers in the rest of the country. so literacy leads directly to an improvement in the depth and quality of public opinion. As well as to more active participation of the poor in the democratic process.

Amartya Sen, the polymath Nobel laureate in Economics, has reminded us that  “The elimination of ignorance, of illiteracy and of needless inequalities in opportunities are objectives that are valued for their own sake. They expand our freedom to lead the lives we have reason to value”. We sometimes forget that in his most famous  poem, the other Nobel Prize-winning Bengali, the immortal poet Robindranath Tagore, implicitly spoke of education as fundamental to his dream of India. It was in a place “ where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; where knowledge is free” and “where the mind is led forward … into ever- widening though and action” that Tagore hoped his India would awake to freedom. Such a mind is, of course , one that can only be developed an shaped by literacy.

Literacy and information age

Illiteracy must be fought for practical reasons also. How are we going to cope with the 21st century, the information age, if half our population cannot sign their name or read newspaper? Tomorrow’s  is the information Age: the world will be able to tell the rich from the poor not by GNP figures, but by their Internet connections. Illiteracy is a self – imposed handicap in a race we have no choice but to run. But it is also essential to focus on one specific aspect of the literacy challenge in our country today.

The saddest aspect of India’s literacy statistics is the disproportionate percentage of women who remain illiterate. Sixty per cent of India’s illiterates are women. Female literacy (43 per cent) was 26 percentage points below the male literacy (69 percent). No society has ever liberated itself economically. Politically, or socially without a sound base of educated women. The two- word mantra to promote development in the world: “educate girls”. There is no the female child. Scholarly studies and research  projects have established what common sense might already have told us: that if your educate a boy, you educate a person, but if you educate a girl, you educate a family and benefit an entire community.       

Certainly, there is no better answer. India must educate itself – achieve 4100 per cent literacy nationwide- if we are to fulfill the aspirations we have begun to dare to articulate, and rise to the development challenges of the 21st century.



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