International Literacy Day is celebrated across the world on September 8. Great Plains College will celebrate International Literacy Day (ILD) on Tuesday, September 10, in partnership with Southwest Literacy Committee.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared “Literacy for Multilingualism” as the 2019 theme for ILD, which corresponds with the United Nations declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The year 2019 is also significant as it marks the 25th anniversary on Special Needs Education. Since 1967, ILD has been celebrated around the world to emphasize the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda toward a more literate and sustainable society.
At the 30th session of UNESCO, 1999, a resolution was passed on “multilingual education,” which includes mother tongue(s), regional or national language, and an international language. Multilingual education, if administered well, can have very positive learning outcomes and be a significant tool in promoting cultural diversity and a sense of interconnectedness between countries and populations.
“The ‘multiplier effect’ of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and leads to improved livelihoods,” explains Bula Ghosh, Southwest Literacy Committee member and literacy coordinator at Great Plains College. “Literacy is an intrinsic part of sustainable development and has significant effect on quality of life. Multilingual education can help to enhance literacy development and intercultural understanding.”
The Swift Current Branch Library plays a significant role in literacy and skills development through a variety of programs, including computer skills training, building robots, book clubs and more. There are bilingual or multilingual books available at the library for families and individuals who want to pursue their mother tongue(s) development while learning other languages.
“Great Plains College also works year-round to promote literacy and lifelong learning through the Adult Basic Education and English Language Training programs in particular,” says Ghosh, “We are excited to be working with our partners to raise awareness on the importance of literacy, particularly multilingual education for everyone in our community.”
Globally, 758 million youth and adults do not read and write. Approximately 250 million children do not have basic literacy skills. In Canada, four out of ten adults do not have functional literacy skills. This is a matter of concern in our knowledge-based economy in Canada.
“We are pleased that the City of Swift Current has agreed to proclaim September 9 to 15 as International Literacy Week, and we want to encourage other individuals and community agencies to participate in their own special way to promote multilingual education and lifelong learning,” said Ghosh. “Literacy affects our lives in many ways. Let us participate in lifelong learning, intercultural understanding and be better prepared to be members of a global society.”
Great Plains College will celebrate International Literacy Day on Tuesday, September 10, with a literacy display at the college to increase awareness and promote multilingualism. Coffee and refreshments will be served from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and attendees can participate in a quiz to test their literacy skills and win prizes. The Swift Current Library and Newcomer Welcome Centre will also be hosting events during the week of the City of Swift Current’s proclamation.