The Importance of World Literacy Day

When we provide better education to children across the globe, we can change the world. This September 8, Uptime is celebrating World Literacy Day.

by Uptime Staff / 2021-09-07

Today is an important day for us here at Uptime. 

This World Literacy Day, September 8, we are partnering with Room to Read, a nonprofit supporting the education of young women, to give books to those who need them most. We will donate $1 for every sign-up we receive - the equivalent of the production and distribution of one book. There’s no time like now to stop scrolling and start making a change.

Why is World Literacy Day important?

Many of us don’t think twice about our ability to read - it’s something we learned so long ago that we don’t think twice about it. But think for a second about how much you read every single day, and how it improves your quality of life; from reading articles in newspapers, discovering new recipes to try and cook, or finding refuge, escapism, or empowerment from a good book on a topic you didn't know about before.

Literacy is a privilege; one that many around the world still don’t have access to. 

As you are reading this, it may seem impossible that illiteracy is still an issue in 2021. But it’s estimated that around 733 million people around the world struggle with reading and basic literacy skills. Two thirds of them are women and girls. 

How many books can you think of that have expanded your worldview, inspired you, or helped you through difficult times? Reading also offers escapism to those who truly need it. It gives people the chance to put their worries to one side and let their imaginations run free. At our loneliest moments, books provide us with hope; they connect us with others, remind us that our struggles and dark emotions are often the most human thing about us, and provide us with solutions we might never have thought of otherwise. Can you think of how different you might be if you had never read any of them? 

Take a minute to think about how much you use your ability to read every single day at work. Would you be able to do your job without it? Literacy is an incredibly important skill, even if many of us don’t think twice about it during our day-to-day lives. It’s a resource that provides us with many new opportunities to become economically independent. This is especially true for young women; the opportunity for young girls to become economically independent is often life-changing.

quotation marksWe are not giving up on educating the world's most vulnerable children.
- Geetha Murali, Room to Read CEO

The ability to read not only provides endless enrichment to us as individuals, but it also provides opportunities for those who can do so to, in time, provide for themselves and families. As scholar, philosopher, and educational reformer John Dewey explores in his book Democracy and Education, world literacy also allows us the freedom to question the status quo and think for ourselves, two key cornerstones for democracy. 

Too often, we see the scourge of illiteracy in our most vulnerable communities. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that is desperately difficult to emerge from. In the words of John Dewey:

quotation marksNothing is more tragic than failure to discover one’s true business in life, or to find that one has drifted or been forced by circumstance into an uncongenial calling.

World Literacy Day feels particularly important this year, when we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has disrupted the everyday lives of children, young people, and adults across the globe, putting people through extreme hardship over the past 18 months. many of us have struggled with mental health issues as a side-effect of isolation.

In the wake of COVID 19’s wrath, one third of the world’s children remain cut off from education.  

As we all struggle to adapt to our new reality, children across the world have had their education disrupted through the after-effects of remote learning and social distancing. Combine this with the intense stress and myriad of mental health impacts that COVID-19 has brought to young children, and you can imagine how devastating the long-term impact might be.

How can we change the world? The answer lies in providing better education for all.

Investing in quality education for all is at the heart of our worldwide recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

Literacy is not just an integral cog of education. It also empowers people to make change, gives people the freedom to express their inner selves, and helps to expand one’s beliefs of what is possible. 

That brings us back to today. World Literacy Day is celebrated each year on September 8. First founded by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1966, it was created as a day to celebrate the importance of communities and societies all around the world.

quotation marksAt a time when we need to reinvent a world of hope, literacy is more important than ever. On this International Day, I thus invite all those involved in education to redouble their investments and mobilize all their resources to unleash the potential of each individual in the service of a shared world.
— Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General

This is exactly why we’re honored to be partnering with Room to Read, and tell you about the fantastic work they’re doing to keep young girls in school. To empower yourself and the wider world with knowledge by donating $1 to Room to Read, click the link to download here.


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