When the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights was adopted over 50 years ago, nations all agreed that education
was a basic human right for everyone. But today more than 860 million adults cannot
read or write and over 100 million children do not have access to basic education.
linked to poverty, inequality and exclusion from social life. Without education
individuals have a hard time exercising any of their civil, economic, political
or social rights. Education helps empower people by increasing their opportunities
to build a better life for themselves and their families. Because two-thirds of
the world's illiterate adults are women who were denied access to education, educating
girls is one of the most important ways of empowering women. Education helps nations
improve their economies, the health of their citizens, and encourages democratic
participation and active citizenship.
statistics paint a bleak picture of the enormous task nations face, but global
literacy campaigns have helped tremendously. In the last 20 years the level of
adult literacy rose from 70 to 80 percent, representing hundreds of millions of
adults who can now take a more active role in their lives.
Literacy Day is an occasion to celebrate the importance of literacy to individuals,
communities and societies everywhere, and to honor the teachers and volunteers
who are making a difference by helping children and adults learn to read and write.
The Years 2003-2012
have been declared as the United Nations Literacy Decade to help promote the promise
of the leaders of the world who pledged to promote education for all and increase
global literacy levels by 50% before 2015.