The International Literacy Day is celebrated annually on the 8th of September. It is an opportunity for governments, civil society, and othervstakeholders to highlight improvements in the world literacy rates, and reflect on the world's remaining literacy challenges. The issue of literacy is a key component of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million adults worldwide lacking basic literacy skills today.
The International Literacy Day 2020 focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” especially on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults. The recent COVID-19 crisis has been a stark reminder of the existing gap between policy discourse and reality: a gap that already existed in the pre-COVID-19 era and negatively affects the learning of youth and adults, who have no or low literacy skills, and therefore, tend to face multiple disadvantages.
During COVID-19, in many countries, adult literacy programmes were absent in the initial education response plans, so most adult literacy programmes that did exist were suspended, with just a few courses continuing virtually, through TV and radio, or in open air spaces. This Day provides an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programmes to face the pandemic and beyond.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), believe that literacy is a passage to an untouchable facet of the world. Literacy is a basic human right, and also a fundamental building block for learning as well as an individual empowerment tool. It is the catalyst for social and global progress as we continue to grow. On this day we, at WAY, would give an opportunity to look into the role of educators, as well as formulate effective policies, systems, governance and measures that can support educators and learning.
We also would like reiterate our encouragement to all young people to actively volunteer in community services or other related programmes which have a purpose in educating illiterate youth and children around them. So, let us take an oath in working together for tomorrow’s world literate society!