Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

Kofi Annan

The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1966. The aim of this day is to remember the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.

On International Literacy Day, we are reminded that there is still much to do to ensure that more children are enrolled in school and learning. Literacy is key to making our world more sustainable, peaceful, and financially secure. Within UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development , Quality Education is indeed the number four.

Although, in the past decades major progress has been made in terms of increasing access to education at all levels, especially for girls, about 258 million children and youth are still out of school. [UIS data for the school year ending in 2018]. The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, schools has been closed in a majority of countries, impacting more than 91 per cent of students worldwide, and also causing problems related to nutrition. Indeed, nearly 369 million children who rely on school meals have had to look to other sources for daily nutrition. 

The global pandemic has far-reaching consequences that may jeopardize hard won gains made in improving global education.

International Literacy Day 2020 provides an opportunity to reflect on this issue and analyse which role can play educators, as well as policies, systems and governance to support educators and learning.