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“Literacy and Sustainable Development” 2014 International Literacy Day Celebrations

“Literacy and Sustainable Development”
2014 International Literacy Day Celebrations in New Delhi, India
8 September 2014

The theme of International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.”  As UNESCO notes, literacy is a key element in empowering people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. It plays a critical role in the development of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies.

The International Literacy Day, 8 September 2014, commenced with the prestigious celebratory event organized by the National Literacy Mission Authority, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) at the Vigyan Bhawan- premier convention centre of Government of India in New Delhi.

In attendance were Shri. Pranab Mukherjee, Hon. President of India; in the presence of Smt. Smriti Irani, Hon. Union Minister of HRD; Shri Kalyan Singh, Hon. Governor of Rajasthan; Mr. Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka; Mr. R. Bhattacharya, Secretary of School Education and Literacy, MHRD; Mr. Y. S. K. Kumar, Director General National Literacy Mission, ambassadors, representatives of E-9 countries, UN and bilateral organizations. Also present were representatives from various ministries, Jan Shiksha Sansthans (JSS- vocational training providers to neo- and non-literates), State Literacy Resources centres (SRC), literacy volunteers, members of Zila Parishads (village councils) and panchayats, neo-literates as well as learners.

The highlight of the International Literacy Day celebration was the President’s address on the importance of the eradication of illiteracy in India. He reaffirmed India’s dedication in spreading adult literacy to marginalized and vulnerable groups, particularly girls and women.  As well as illuminated the challenges that India faces in universalizing literacy. The President expressed the government’s willingness to reduce the gender gap from 16% to 10% as a way to achieve the country’s target of 80% literacy by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).

Smt. Smriti Irani, Hon. Union HRD Minister, directed the nation by urging the corporate sector to support the cause of the eradication of illiteracy. She took this opportunity to discuss the work conducted by MHRD in the areas of electoral and financial literacy, which she hopes to align with the Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narenda Modi’s scheme “Jan Dhan Yojana” (Financial Inclusion of the Masses). This partnership will prompt administration of literacy in conjunction with skills development.

Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka – Mr Shigeru AoyagiDirector and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka – Mr Shigeru Aoyagi had the honour of conveying UNESCO’s message on behalf of the Director General of UNESCO- Ms. Irina Bokova. The message focused on the need for change in traditional literacy programmes that move beyond narrow definitions of education and focus on development of life skills, environmental integration as well as civic participation which hold significant transformative potential. Apart from the Director-General’s message, Mr. Aoyagi also congratulated both – the MHRD and NLMA for their efforts to bring literacy to millions of Indian citizens. He also acknowledged the challenges that India faces yet he emphasised India’s potential in achieving a literate society as well as UNESCO’s support.

Another key feature of the event was the President awarding eleven Saakshar Bharat Awards 2014 to State, Districts, Blocks, Gram Panchayats, SRCs and JSSs for best performance in the field of literacy and adult education. A film by the National Film Development Corporation of India was screened which portrayed empowering and inspiring stories of neo-literates from remote areas of India.

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day. Literacy is a human right, it is imperative to mobilize public opinion in favor of the struggle against illiteracy. The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013-2014, estimates that there are 774 million illiterate adults in the world (India has 287 million) of which two-third are women.

Related Links:
International Literacy Day celebrations at Vigyan Bhawan
UNESCO Director General’s message on International Literacy Day, 2014
International Literacy Day, celebrations at UNESCO and around the world

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Alisher Umarov, Programme Specialist for Education at a.umarov(at) and/or
Ms. Rekha Beri, Communications and Information Officer at r.beri(at)