Friday, September 7, 2012

International Literacy Day 2012 in School

International Literacy Day

" Education brings sustainability to all the development goals, and literacy is the foundation of all learning. It provides individuals with the skills to understand the world and shape it, to participate in democratic processes and have a voice, and also to strengthen their cultural identity."

Irina Bokova, Director- general UNESCO

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day by reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning. 

The theme of International Literacy Day 2012 is "Literacy and Peace". This theme was adopted by the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) to demonstrate the multiple uses and value that literacy brings to people. 

"Literacy contributes to peace as it brings people closer to attaining individual freedoms and better understanding the world, as well as preventing or resolving conflict. The connection between literacy and peace can be seen by the fact that in unstable democracies or in conflict-affected countries it is harder to establish or sustain a literate environment."

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. 

Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all.
A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.


"Everyone has the right to education."

  • Today, nearly 17% of the world’s adult population is still not literate; two thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve.
  • The scale of illiteracy among youth also represents an enormous challenge; an estimated 122 million youth globally are illiterate, of which young women represent 60.7%.
  • The 67.4 million children who are out of school are likely to encounter great difficulties in the future, as deficient or non-existent basic education is the root cause of illiteracy.
  • With some 775 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all thus remains elusive.
These numbers are scary! We are at the 21th century. Science and High Technlogies are on the top. And so many people can't read? 

Some ideas for different levels or curricula: 

Let's start for a good discussion with our students about the important human right of reading. 

We can display (smartphones, ipads and other devices) the Literacy in the World Infographic here

And after this valious discussion, we can propose different activities.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Primary education:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore can be a lovely motivation to  stimulate the love for books and reading pleasure in  native  language curriculum or in foreign languages curriculum! This short animated narrative can be a good resource for captivating your little students!

I know how students love to read when their teachers love books. I can assure you. It's a transmissible pleasure! 

"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" app (iPad) can be used in the classroom as a precious motivation to introduce the values: 
  • love for books
  • love for libraries
  • love for knowledge

Children's books interactive for iPad are becoming more engaging and, in some cases, are visually stunning. Remembering also Alice in Wonderland for iPad or iPad features & Education.

Middle and Secondary education:

We can reuse and adaptate some of UNESCO's activities introducing them as a regular activities in Language & Civics curriculum:
  • Start a reading club;
  • Participate in a readathon, kicking off a cross-grade reading buddy program;
  • Invite the best readers students to volunteer by helping some poor-readers colleagues at the school library:
  • Donate books and reading materials to their ancient school or community center;
  • Volunteer to teach literacy classes in your community after school, once a week;
  • Become a mentor of a non-literate person. *
Adult education: 

As we talked above about Adult learning, "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink is an ineteresting book. There's s a film based on te bool.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, a law professor and judge.

The Reader has been included in the curricula of college-level courses in Holocaust literature and German language and German literature in the United States.

We can include the book
(translation in different languages) in the Language curriculum of adult learning courses. Of course the Holocaust is an important theme. 

"The story is a parable, dealing with the difficulties post-war German generations have had comprehending the Holocaust"

However, we can emphasize the unhapiness of iliteracy and Hanna's shame at being iliterate so well described by this character in the novel. And the joy she feels when Michael read to her.


Some people are uncomfortable with the moral ambiguity. So we must have a good discussion in the course during the lecture.

"Schlink is making a case for the moral value of literature in society not just because reading is important to the characters, but also because Schlink uses the novel as a vehicle for philosophical and moral exploration."

Erin Collazo Miller (free lancer writer)

The Reader
 Bernhard Schlink

The Reader, the film by Stephen Daldry is based on the novel of the same name. Both are wonderful resources.

The performance or display of a movie by teachers in a course of face-to-face teaching activities in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction like learning environment can be one of the most interesting educational resources for students from primary education to adult education. 

It's a rich interactive approach of exploring Literature for children, youth or adults.

It's your choice. In your lessons, you can start by reading the book or display the movie as a motivation, followed by a comparative study. 

* Of course, you can also extend some of activities that I include for middle and secondary education.

Invite your students to send their literacy stories to joinliteracy(at)

"We should teach great books; we should teach a love of reading."

B.F. Skinner


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International Literacy Day 2012 in School by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Internation Literacy Day

The Reader

The Reader (movie)

Open Educational Resources for literacy

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