As the world celebrates 'literacy in a digital world', African countries have a long way to go in achieving universal literacy, India is somewhere in the middle but the Islamic countries barring Pakistan are doing really well. Research: Raunak Sharma
What is International Literacy Day
On 8th September 1965, the World Congress of Ministers of Education met in Tehran for the first time to discuss the programme of education at the international level.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in its 14th Session in November 1966, declared 8th September as the International Literacy Day (ILD)
ILD is a forum to disseminate information on literacy and raise the public awareness and the significance of literacy for individual and national development.
International Literacy Day theme for 2017
This year's theme for International Literacy Day is "Literacy in a digital world". The theme carries three objectives: -To deepen understandings of what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate in a digital world and what this means for literacy teaching and learning. -To share and analyze promising practices with regard to policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation as well as financing that advance literacy in a digital world. -To explore how digital technologies can support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 4, especially Target 4.6 on youth and adult literacy.
Where the world stands in literacy rate
According to the Institute for Statistics of UNESCO, the literacy rate in the world for people aged 15 and above is 86.3 per cent as a whole. Where for males, it is 90 per cent and females it is 82.7 per cent with 7.3 per cent of gender difference.
Global literacy data
As per UNESCO literacy data for the year 2015, globally there are still 757 million adults aged 15 or above, including 115 million youth, who still cannot read or write a simple sentence. And, two-third of the 757 million adults (who are illiterates) are female.
UNESCO has also estimated that 30 to 50 million people are added to the growing list of illiterate individuals annually.
Islamic countries with excellent literacy level
Islamic countries which are more in news for violence and terrorism have an excellent literacy rate, like Syria 86. 4 per cent, Iraq 86.8 per cent, Jordan 96.7 per cent, Qatar 97.8 per cent, Kuwait 96.2 per cent. And other Islamic countries like Malaysia 94.6 per cent, UAE 93.8 per cent, Saudi Arabia 94.7 per cent, Oman 94.8 per cent also have a remarkable literacy rate.
Photo credit: UNICEF Pakistan (Facebook)
Poor literacy in African countries
According to UNESCO literacy rate for the year 2015, a majority of the countries with low literacy are from Africa. Countries like Niger with 19 per cent, Guinea 30.4 per cent, Mali 38.7 per cent, Central African Republic 36.8 per cent, Chad 40.2 per cent, Ethiopia 49.1 per cent. And other than Africa, another country with very low literacy rate of 38.2 per cent is Afghanistan. This shows how bad the situation is in these countries.
Literacy rate of Pakistan
According to the UNESCO 2015 report, literacy rate of Pakistan is 56.4 per cent, which makes it among the countries with lowest literacy rate in the world. In 1950, the literacy rate of Pakistan was 16.4 per cent, which through the years has increased only about 40 per cent.
Photo credit: UNICEF Pakistan (Facebook)
Literacy level of India
As per UNESCO, India's literacy rate for 2015 of people aged "15 or above" is 72.1 per cent as a whole. Where for males it is 80.9 per cent and for females, it is 62.8 per cent with 18.1 per cent of gender difference. In 2000, it was 61 per cent, which clearly indicates that there has been only 10 per cent increase in the literacy rate in 15 long years.
The National Literacy Mission Authority of India
The National Literacy Mission Authority started celebrating International Literacy Day (ILD) every year from 1988 onwards. The eradication of illiteracy has been one of the major national concerns of the Government of India since independence. The occasion of ILD is used for raising public awareness to eradicate illiteracy and create an environment in favour of adult education programmes.
An NGO which builds schools' in developing countries
The buildOn is an international non-profit organisation (NGO) that runs youth service after school programs in the United States high schools and builds schools in developing countries. The organisation's programs engage young Americans from mostly urban areas in community service and promote literacy among children and adults in developing countries. The photo is of two Malawi boys, a country in East Africa, studying in a school built by buildOn, the NGO.