“Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the twenty-first century. We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy”

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General

Approximately, more than 774 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and roughly 123 million children lack those same skills, and are often denied any access to education. Put simply, one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

The 8th of September every year is set aside by the United Nations to recognize International Literacy Day. Since 1966, UNESCO has celebrated the day as a reminder to the world that literacy is a basic human right and even more essential to social and economic development. This year’s theme is “Literacies for the 21st Century”, which aims to highlight the importance of literacy in the century of globalization, and the lack there of in many a country.

In order to promote the importance of literacy within society, several initiatives have been put in place including; the United Nations Literacy Decade and the LIFE initiative, both of which offer a framework for UNESCO to advocate for literacy, however, addressing the global literacy challenge remains difficult.

As such, we at the World Assembly of Youth, call upon you, the youth, to be the instigators of change and the leaders of this battle against illiteracy within society. Many young people and refugees migrate thousands of miles in pursuit of the opportunity to receive a decent education. We urge you to be the facilitators of this opportunity and the architects of a future free of illiteracy, and with strong grounds for literacy as a basic human right.

As you all know, in two days we are holding the 13th annual Melaka International Youth Dialogue (MIYD) themed “Youth Migration: A Step from Haven”. One of the key issues being addressed at this dialogue is youth migration in search of better education and the duty of key stakeholders to address the causal factors of this form of migration as well as promoting basic standards for education and educational facilities in every country.

The struggle for literacy as a basic human right and necessity, is not something that can be achieved in a single day. It is an initiative that requires all citizens of the world to play a significant role and contribution. That contribution begins with you, and remains your responsibility to ensure that action is being taken within your community, to promote literacy.

Happy International Literacy Day