International Literacy Day 2021; Know the history, theme, and relevance of the day

To improve the future of one’s life, literacy plays an important role. Literacy is critical to economic development as well as individual and community well-being, especially in countries like India literacy rate is a socio-economic factor. 

September 8 is celebrated worldwide as International literacy day. The first International Literacy Day was observed in the year 1967. International Literacy Day also highlights the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.

According to the statistics, the highest literacy rate was achieved by Kerala, while the lowest rate went to Andhra Pradesh.

History and Significance

UNESCO declared international literacy day on October 26, 1966, at the 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. It was proclaimed to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. It has to be noted that the issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


International literacy day 2021 will be celebrated under the theme ‘Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide’. 

Covid-19 pandemic was a reminder of the critical importance of literacy. It has to be noted that beyond its intrinsic importance as part of the right to education, literacy empowers individuals and improves their lives by expanding their capabilities to choose a kind of life they can value and is also a driving factor for sustainable development.

According to the UN website, “International Literacy Day 2021 will explore how literacy can contribute to building a solid foundation for a human-centered recovery, with a special focus on the interplay of literacy and digital skills required by non-literate youth and adults. It will also explore what makes technology-enabled literacy learning inclusive and meaningful to leave no one behind.


Educating a generation is a social job and everyone needs to take care of it. Hundreds of millions of illiterate adults still existing in the world, make it essential to change national education policies. Human beings should be economically, socially, and politically concerned about society. With this aim, world literacy day has been declared.

Moreover, the Covid pandemic has disrupted the learning of children, young people, and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities. efforts are being made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, including distance learning, often in combination with in-person learning. However, access to literacy learning opportunities has not been evenly distributed.

In India, as per the last census in 2011, a total of 74.04 percent are literate, an increase of 9.2 percent from the last decade (2001-11). The country will take another 50 years to achieve universal literacy, which is 2060, as per UNESCO.