International Literacy Day 2023
International Literacy Day raises awareness of the importance of literacy (the ability to read and write) in dignity and human rights. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you often take literacy for granted!
Reading and writing play a huge part in our everyday lives from sending emails to reading Red Balloon blog posts! Not being able to read and write means filling out a job application, ensuring you know the proper way to take medication, voting, and many more vital tasks become incredibly difficult if not impossible.
Literacy improves autonomy and independence. It expands our capabilities and reduces poverty. It has positive effects on health and sustainable development (UNESCO). Literacy means we have a choice which is integral to dignity and human rights.
Globally there are thought to be around 771 million young people and adults who don’t have basic literacy skills and this picture is not equal. Most of these people live in developing nations and around two-thirds of them are women (UNESCO).
Literacy Day sheds light on this issue and highlights how important it is that everyone has access to this critical part of education. Solving the issue of illiteracy is complex and has been greatly affected by the pandemic. While you or I may have learned to read in school, not everyone has access to school. Educational programmes on TV or the radio have been effective, but not everyone has access to these digital devices either. Community centres and other gathering places where learning might have taken place were affected by the pandemic and while we may be gathering again, a host of factors like widening inequalities mean that lots of people aren’t returning to these learning spaces.
While most of the UK is literate, functional illiteracy (having some reading and writing skills, but not enough to manage daily living and employment) remains a problem here too. If this literacy day, you’re inspired to help tackle illiteracy you might consider volunteering with a literacy charity in your area or perhaps reading to children during a library story hour.
At Red Balloon, we stress the importance of literacy and its ability to empower our young people and give them more choices later in life. We also recognise that learning challenges and conditions like dyslexia can make learning to read and write more difficult. We tailor our work to each student and their individual circumstances to ensure they are set up for literacy success!