International Literacy Day


Poster for International Literacy Day 2006Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all children, youth and adults - is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels - locally, nationally and internationally.


International Literacy Day was established in 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is celebrated around the world each year on 8 September. In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly gave a boost to world literacy by proclaiming International Literacy Year. This special Year signified the ongoing commitment of the world community to recognize and support literacy as a key to personal development and to the socio-economic progress of nations.


Ambassador Enkhsaikan of Mongolia leading a discussion on International Literacy Day 2002In its resolution A/RES/56/116, the General Assembly proclaimed the ten year period beginning 1 January 2003 the United Nations Literacy Decade. In resolution A/RES/57/166, the Assembly welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided that UNESCO should take a coordinating role in activities undertaken at the international level within the framework of the Decade.


The photo shows the Mongolian Ambassador to the UN, Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan leading a discussion with leaders from UNESCO, IRA, World Bank, U.S. Dept. of Education, and VALUE (an adult literacy organization) on the occasion of International Literacy Day 2002.


2002 Literacy for Diversity: Voices of Resilience

2003 Literacy and Gender

2004 Literacy and Gender

2005 Literacy and sustainable development

2006 Literacy sustains development

2007 Literacy, key to good health and well-being

2008 Literacy is the best remedy



Poster for International Literacy Day 2008Link


The Literacy section on the UNESCO website.



Related subject


International Literacy Year



Stamp catalogue - 1976


Niger 8 September 1976



Stamp catalogue - 1983


Niger 8 September 1983









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last revised: 1 July 2009