UNESCO has been at the forefront of global literacy efforts since 1946, advancing the vision of a literate world for all. It views acquiring and improving literacy skills throughout life as an intrinsic part of the right to education. The “multiplier effect” of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods.
Literacy is also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities,
Beyond its conventional concept as a set of reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.
Globally, however, at least 773 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills. This results in an exclusion of low-literate and low-skilled youth and adults from full participation in their communities and societies.
To advance literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNESCO takes the following approaches to promote literacy worldwide, with an emphasis on youth and adults.
- Building strong foundations through early childhood care and education
- Providing quality basic education for all children
- Scaling-up functional literacy levels for youth and adults who lack basic literacy skills
- Developing literate environments