Write. Read. Succeed!

September 8thmarks International Literacy Day– a day to applaud the progress we have made, and renew our focus on the work that still needs to be done. Organizations and individuals have helped to promote literacy across the globe, with the World Literacy Foundation alone empowering young people in eighty countries through literacy and lifelong learning.

ILD2019_4Why literacy?


UNESCO’s theme this year is ‘Literacy and Multilingualism’ and reflects the increasing importance of literacy across languages. In a globalized world, accessing widely spoken languages like English can open educational, cultural and financial doors.

However, to truly address the literacy challenges faced by countries, communities, and individuals around the world, we must turn to multilingual literacy education. Providing resources and training in people’s language allows them to develop skills easily, empower their linguistic communities, and values their language in our global culture.

A language encompasses culture and history


English is widely regarded as an international language and is one obvious choice of second language for people wanting to work or learn internationally. Nevertheless, to limit the literacy discussion to English literacy would be to remove the rich and vibrant linguistic differences. Language is not only essential to communication, but to understanding our history and culture.

In Laos, the expression “ເກງໃຈ/gang jai” describes the “you go first,” “no you go first” struggle of two people being too polite. There is no English equivalent. Not to mention, many theorists believe that the vocabulary in our language influences the way we think and feel. It may be possible that we cannot feel emotions we have no word for, nor can we understand concepts we cannot name.

Therefore, by acknowledging and valuing a person’s language, we value them and their culture. Any advocacy for a more literate and empowered society must consider multilingualism as key. In the International Literacy Day, we make a call to embrace linguistic diversity to promote inclusion in education!

ILD2019_2Where to from here?


The way to build a better future for our global community is by helping the 750 million people who lack basic skills to become literate and to use and value the learner’s languages in this process. As an example, in the World Literacy Foundation, they aim to provide children with literacy resources to reach their full potential, understanding and caring about their local context. They work with remote communities in Uganda (Africa) and Northern Territory (Australia) to produce digital educational content in their mother language and English.

Learn more here

Written by: Ashley Emmerton