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International Literacy Day 2017

Poster: UNESCO

September 8 is International Literacy Day. Hashtag: 

This year, International Literacy Day will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. A key event takes place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

The 2017 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes awards ceremony will also take place to recognize and reward excellent literacy practices from around the world in connection with this year’s theme and as a key target in Sustainable Development Goal 4.

At record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialise everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their lives including access to information; knowledge management; networking; social services; industrial production, and mode of work.

Those who lack access to digital technologies and the knowledge, skills and competencies required to navigate them, can end up marginalised in increasingly digitally driven societies. Literacy is one such essential skill.

Just as knowledge, skills and competencies evolve in the digital world, so does what it means to be literate. In order to close the literacy skills gap and reduce inequalities, this year’s International Literacy Day will highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, a world where, despite progress, at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills.

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. It is an occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter remaining challenges for the promotion of literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning within and beyond the 2030 Education Agenda.

UNESCO global event

The international conference on ‘Literacy in a digital world’ and the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes Awards Ceremony will take place on September 8, 2017 at UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France.

The objectives of the international conference will be:

  • To deepen understanding of what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate in a digital world and what this means for literacy teaching and learning;
  • To share and analyse promising practices with regard to policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation as well as financing that advances literacy in a digital world;
  • To explore how digital technologies can support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 4, especially Target 4.6 on youth and adult literacy.

Download the Agenda.

The event will be live streamed in EnglishFrench and Spanish.


September 8 was declared International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place around the world.

Key Links


Concept Note

Education 2030: Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action (2015)

Translating: International Literacy Day

Spanish: Día Internacional de la Alfabetización

Chinanteco de San Felipe Usila (México): jm quieh a he ma jyi

Chinanteco de Sochiapam (México): Jmáɨ¹ quioh²¹ Jú¹jma²

Quechua (Bolivia): Yachana Jatun Punchay

Nyungar (Australia): Nidja Kedela Boolala Moort Bibbul Djinanginy (this day lots of people/family are looking at paper/bark)

Estonian: Rahvusvaheline Kirjaoskuse Päev


How do you translate ‘International Literacy Day’ in other languages?

Is there a calendar of events celebrating Literacy Day?

How digitally literate are our governments, organizations and institutions?

Who are the literacy champions on Twitter?

For UNESCO: What would UNESCO like us to know about its work?

Will the live video be archived online? Will the video be made available to embed on other websites?

What is the 2030 Education Agenda?

In this Year of Open, what are the connections among literacy and open access and open education?



Digital illiteracy is thoroughly embedded in government, in business, in education, in health, in the not for profit sector. It’s people who want those who are participating in the digital revolution to give up their benefits and come back and support the status quo. Revolutions break stuff and the first thing they break is the status quo. The status quo is represented by documents, like spreadsheets and word processing documents. I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen. Our biggest challenge in digital literacy is taking all of these organizations and moving them to a position where they can interact with, communicate with and work with the community that is digitally enabled.
– Earl Mardle, 20-20 Communication Trust (NetHui, 2011)


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