Today is International Literacy Day sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). First observed in 1966, International Literacy Day calls attention to the need to promote literacy and education around the world as an antidote to poverty and as an agent for empowerment and global progress.
Education and literacy are central to the stability, prosperity, and well-being of any country. As explained by Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General:
Literacy is not merely a cognitive skill of reading, writing and arithmetic, for literacy helps in the acquisition of learning and life skills that, when strengthened by usage and application throughout people’s lives, lead to forms of individual, community and societal development that are sustainable.
While literacy rates are on the rise around the world, there are still millions of people who are unable to read and write. The goal of International Literacy Day is to both celebrate literacy and to promote ideas for stamping out illiteracy.
Today’s Challenge: Read All About It
What can people do to celebrate and promote literacy? Read and reflect on the quotations below about the importance of literacy and education. Then, write a text of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to promote literacy and International Literacy Day. Incorporate a direct quotation on literacy into your PSA. You can use one of the quotations below, or research one of your own. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
-“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” -Frederick Douglass
-“Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don’t believe that, watch an illiterate adult try to do it.” -John Steinbeck
-“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.” -Kof Annan
-“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” –Thomas Jefferson
-“One of the greatest gifts adults can give — to their offspring and to their society — is to read to children.” –Carl Sagan
Quotation of the Day: It’s easy to forget what a crippling disability it is to be unable to read. To be illiterate is not like being deprived of television, or any other medium. It is more like being deaf, or being deprived of music. Literacy does not just give us access to knowledge of facts or skills. Some skills and some facts can more easily be taught with pictures or video, and some things can only be learned by practice. Literacy supplies a whole mode of thought. It lets us follow arguments longer and more complex than are available without writing. It allows us to talk across time, with our younger and older selves as well as with other people. -The Guardian View on the Importance of Literacy (2).