International Literacy Day: A European Perspective

Why is International Literacy Day celebrated?

International Literacy Day is celebrated to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities, and societies. Literacy is a foundational skill that empowers individuals to participate fully in society, access information, and make informed decisions. The day serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts required to promote literacy and address the challenges faced by millions of individuals who lack basic reading and writing skills. UNESCO, recognizing the significance of literacy, established International Literacy Day in 1966, and since then, it has been celebrated annually on September 8th. The day emphasizes the human right to literacy and education, and the role of literacy in sustainable development and peace.

Who is the founder of International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day was founded by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966.

What is the theme of International Literacy Day 2023?

The rapidly changing global context has taken on a new significance in recent years, impeding literacy advancements and exacerbating inequalities across regions, nations, and demographics. In low- and middle-income countries, the proportion of 10-year-old children unable to read and comprehend a basic text has surged from 57% in 2019 to an estimated 70% in 2022.

Given this backdrop, the theme for International Literacy Day 2023 is 'Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies'. This year's celebration underscores the importance of literacy in fostering societies that are inclusive, peaceful, just, and sustainable. It emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between literacy and other developmental areas: while literacy is pivotal in shaping such societies, advancements in other developmental sectors play a crucial role in stimulating individuals' interest and motivation to acquire, utilize, and enhance their literacy and numeracy skills.

International Literacy Day 2023 will witness celebrations at global, regional, national, and local levels. A highlight of these celebrations will be a conference scheduled for Friday, 8 September 2023, in Paris, France. This event, which will be accessible both in-person and online, will feature the award ceremony of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes, honouring this year's exceptional literacy programs.

International Literacy Day A European Perspective

What is the European Union doing in regards to its people's Literacy?

The European Union recognizes the importance of media literacy in the digital age. Media literacy enables citizens of all ages to navigate the modern news environment and make informed decisions. It concerns various media and distribution methods and is crucial for all citizens. Media literacy empowers individuals, raises their awareness, and helps counter the effects of disinformation campaigns and fake news spreading through digital media.

The recently revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) by the EU strengthens the role of media literacy. It mandates Member States to promote measures that develop media literacy skills. Furthermore, the directive obliges video-sharing platforms to provide effective media literacy measures and tools, recognizing the central role such platforms play in providing access to audiovisual content.

The European Commission has also initiated the European Media Literacy Week, promoting media literacy skills and projects across the EU. This initiative emphasizes media literacy as a prerequisite for a vibrant, modern democracy.

What are the policies and initiatives of the European Union regarding Literacy?

The European Commission has taken several steps to promote media literacy:

1.  Media Literacy Expert Group:  The European Commission brings together media literacy stakeholders in an expert group. This group meets annually to identify and document good practices in media literacy, facilitate networking between stakeholders, and explore ways of coordinating EU policies, support programs, and media literacy initiatives.

2.  European Media Literacy Week:  An initiative by the European Commission to promote media literacy skills and projects across the EU. It encourages stakeholders at the national level to organize events to celebrate and discuss media literacy.

3.  European Media Literacy Awards:  As part of the European Media Literacy Week, the European Commission recognizes inspiring and impactful projects in the field of media literacy.

4.  Reports and Studies:  The European Commission regularly publishes reports on media literacy practices, the application of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, and other related topics to keep stakeholders informed and promote best practices.

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In conclusion, International Literacy Day serves as a reminder of the importance of literacy in our global society. The European Union, recognizing the evolving nature of literacy in the digital age, has taken proactive steps to ensure its citizens are equipped with the necessary skills to navigate the modern media landscape. Through its policies and initiatives, the EU aims to foster a well-informed and empowered citizenry, capable of making informed decisions in a rapidly changing world.

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