International Literacy Perspectives

A few books that capture the importance of literacy and sharing stories across the globe. Photo courtesy of M.Fitzpatrick/Setonian

International Literacy Day was first recognized by the United Nations in 1966. This celebration takes place annually on September 8 to recognize the importance of literacy within communities, societies and individuals across the globe.

This year, the United Nations has declared their theme as, “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” This topic illustrates the lasting impact of diverse educational and learning opportunities and aims to eliminate the gap between learning discrepancies that might occur based on resource disadvantages. 

International Literacy Day reminds people of the importance of education and brings awareness to its effects on communication, comprehension and personal expression.

The Setonian has asked various students from across the globe to explain why literacy is important to them. 

“Literacy allows me to communicate efficiently with my future patients and colleagues in the medical field. I am incredibly blessed to be bilingual which would allow me to interact on a personal level with patients of Asian backgrounds. Furthermore, smooth communication would help me maximize my work efficiency as a doctor in the future.” – Patrick Wu; Chiayi, Taiwan. 

Photo of George Demetriades from Nicosia, Cyprus. Photo courtesy of George Demetriades.

“Literacy is something fundamental in our life even if people don’t realize it. For me, as a history major, it lets me deliberate my ideas and perspectives through debates, conversations and, of course, research papers. Talking about the past and how everything started and connects in today’s society is just phenomenal in my opinion. Being from Nicosia, Cyprus, which is a Greek Mediterranean island, I used to think and write in Greek, which is completely different literacy. My ideas and ideology changed while my literacy changed as well. Literacy is who you are because that is the way you express yourself in society.” – George Demetriades; Nicosia, Cyprus, Greece.

“Literacy is important to me because I can read and write in English. Writing allows me to express my feelings as well, and reading allows me to understand other people’s messages or feelings.” – Germaine Uwimpuhe; Kigali, Rwanda.

Photo of Abigail Rocks, from New Salem, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Abigail Rocks.

“Literacy has a couple meanings for me.  One of the reasons is because I am a musical theater major, and I study a lot of literature and plays from a long time ago. We analyze stories and find meanings that may not be overtly obvious within the text.  Also, literacy helps to provide an escape from the stress of the world for a while.  Reading gives me the opportunity to explore new stories, new worlds, new voices, and new perspectives in a calming atmosphere where I can just get lost in the words on the page.” – Abbey Rocks; New Salem, PA, United States of America.

International Literacy Day allows organizations and societies to come together to honor the impact that reading and writing skills has on individuals around the world. The United Nations website devotes a page to International Literacy Day and can be found here for those looking to find out more information. 

Published by: Mikaela Fitzpatrick

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