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What is International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day is an annual event that celebrates literacy and the importance of reading and writing. International Literacy Day was started in 1966 by UNESCO as a way to promote youth literacy and global understanding through reading. The day also recognises the need for adults to continue learning throughout their lives. It has been observed every year to motivate individuals around the world to read more, improve literacy skills, provide educational opportunities for children who don’t have access to them and foster international cooperation among nations.

When is International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day falls on the 8th of September each year.

When did International Literacy Day start, and why?

International Literacy Day was proclaimed by UNESCO on the 8th of September 1966 to remind people about how important literacy is for individuals, communities and societies. This issue has been a key component in UN Sustainable Development Goals since 2015 as well as in their 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

How is literacy linked to employment?

In today’s world, literacy is not just about being able to read and write. It has become a fundamental element of the human experience that has positively impacted many aspects of life. There are numerous benefits of literacy, but one, in particular, is it offers an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

The lack of education can significantly impact a child’s potential in life. Education is an investment in the future, but it’s a complicated one. Families living on low incomes often need their children to stop attending school and begin work to supplement household income, limiting access to crucial literacy skills that allow them opportunities outside of unskilled jobs with little progression potential. 

This cycle leads and keeps many families in poverty as they cannot progress beyond these limited wages or provide better life prospects once adults are old enough to enter the job market themselves.

How has COVID-19 impacted young girls and their access to education?

In many developing countries, families cannot afford to send their children to school. Girls often have the responsibility for taking care of family duties and so are unable to attend class as their male peers do. Many girls who were previously going to school now find themselves without education due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this will likely mean they will not return.

It is estimated 11 million girls may never return to school after the pandemic, with many experts fearing that this will reinforce a cycle of violence and poverty that will continue for generations.

Girls and young women face unique challenges in a time of crisis. According to Malala Fund, girls are the first to be removed from school and last to return. Though men are more likely to die of COVID-19 than women on average, studies show that the social and economic fallout from the pandemic is worse for women.

The lack of education, especially for girls in developing countries, can lead to dire consequences. For every 100 boys unable to receive an education there are 123 girls denied the right as well. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics tells us that “for these children a future without opportunity beckons”. Girls who do not finish school often get married before they’re ready and face violence or higher numbers of pregnancies.

What are some International Literacy Day activities?

There are many ways you can celebrate International Literacy Day in your community and we’ve chosen a few to showcase below:

Donate books

Do you have any books that need a new home? Consider donating them to your local school library. Add to the catalogue of a child’s school library and help them escape reality with a captivating fiction story or explore the world and expand their mind with a non-fiction read.

Start your own community book club

Why not take inspiration from International Literacy Day and start your book club? Book clubs are a great way to meet new people and learn about different perspectives plus can be done in person or online. They can also be the perfect place for you to find your next favourite book!

Host a morning tea

Whether you host one in the office or decide to organise something at home, morning teas are simple to organise and a fantastic way to catch up for a good cause. Guests can simply donate on the day and share a bite to eat. Learn more about community fundraising for ChildFund.

Donate to ChildFund 

This International Literacy Day you can donate to our Girls’ Education appeal or donate a School Supplies Set for a child.

For more information on how you can help make a difference in the lives of many children living in poverty around the world, you can check out our current Appeals or learn more about making a monthly donation.

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