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International Literacy Day 2020: History, theme and how education coping up amid COVID-19 pandemic


New Delhi, Sep 08: The first ever International Literacy Day was declared at the 14th session of UNESCO's general conference on 26 October in 1966, and since then it has been celebrated annually on September 8, to raise awareness about the importance of the literacy to individuals, society, and communities as a matter of dignity and human rights.

International Literacy Day 2020: History, theme and how education coping up amid COVID-19 pandemic

General conference stated "The hundreds of millions of illiterate adults still existing in the world, make it essential to change national education policies."

The report said that education systems across the world should provide the training required for children and working adults so that they can learn to read and write.

"National educational plans should include schooling for children and literacy training for adults as parallel elements".

Despite all the efforts, about 775 million adults lack the minimum education, 60.7 million children are out of school or are rare attendees.

Morover, South Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate i.e 58.6 per cent that ends up by severe poverty and prejudice against women.


The theme of International Literacy Day 2020, is "Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond", according to United Nations.

The theme highlights literacy in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.

The 'new normal'

As the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every aspect in a global mean, for children primarily, their education has been severely disrupted as majority of the school around the world have been closed since the start of the pandemic.

More than 190 countries closed their school due to the spread of the infection, which affected the education of approximately 1.27 billion children and youth across the globe.

Despite classes and lectures are being conducted online, the doubt is what the future holds in terms of the process of education.

Celebrating International Literacy Day, the UN is organising online seminars and talks that go over these pertinent questions.

There will be two meetings held, one about the 'Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond: the role of educators and changing pedagogies' and another on 'The Laureates of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes 2020'.

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