How many children in the world today are not in school? What is International Literacy Day? What is the main action being carried out in this area? In order to provide answers to such questions, UNESCO has just launched the Literacy Portal in English and in French. Designed as an information clearinghouse, this portal targets all those involved in promoting literacy (UNESCO field offices, UN agencies, member States, NGOs, etc.) and invites users to continously give their input. It is also a means for UNESCO to enhance its role as the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) coordinator, as directed by the UN General Assembly.
There are currently 771 million illiterate adults in the world and nearly 100 million children out of school. And even among the students in school, many leave before actually learning to read or write. Despite the scale of this phenomenon, literacy is very often a low priority for national governments and the donor community.
Literacy is not limited to simply mastering reading, writing and math skills. In the broad sense, it is a human rights and development issue and therefore is a key to the future.