International Literacy Day 2017 | Sunday Observer

International Literacy Day 2017

24 September, 2017

International Literacy Day is universally celebrated on September 8. It was proclaimed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on November 17, 1965

The Ministry of Education implemented several programs in order to commemorate International Literacy Day which fell on September 8. “The pilot project 13 Years of Mandatory Education will commence next month. Another milestone is the introduction of the Health Insurance Scheme, covering all students in government schools, non-aided or aided private schools, pirivena schools and international schools, also to commence next month. The Health Scheme for students is a 2017 Budget proposal and the Government had allocated Rs.2.7 billion for this purpose,” said, Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam addressing a media briefing on International Literacy Day in Colombo recently.

International Literacy Day is universally celebrated on September 8. It was proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on November 17, 1965. The theme of this year's International Literacy Day was ‘Literacy in a Digital World'. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.

Sri Lanka's population has a literacy rate of 92% which is higher than that expected for a third world country. It has the highest literacy rate in South Asia and overall one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. Around 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills in the world. One in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of the rate are women. Around 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. According to UNESCO’s 'Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2006)', South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by 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 ability to read and write are important elements of literacy. Reading is an important part of a person's learning process. It is a way for people to make connections between what they already know and what they read. These connections help people understand the world around them. Through books they are exposed to characters and cultures that they may not otherwise interact with in real life. If a child likes to read, he is off to a great start in life! When a child is interested in reading and enjoys certain types of books such as mysteries, humour or adventure stories, we should encourage his natural interests in those genres as much as possible.

October is considered as the ‘Reading Month’ in Sri Lanka. Many people love reading because it is entertaining. Reading also teaches us about the world and helps us develop empathy. "Each time you turn a page, your brain lights up. Reading is a workout for the mind, body and soul," said a scholar. The annual Colombo International Book Fair is open to the public from 15- 24 September, 2017 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH). It is organized by the Book Publishers’ Association of Sri Lanka and was first unveiled in 1999.