International Literacy Day, Sept. 8 

Jasdg the mpaig man pod reg bjisteq wsbmnrt dog uite, agiope.

Can’t understand this? This is what it is like for someone who is illiterate. Try not reading for 5 minutes today. It’s not as easy as you think.

Today reading is not only important in our lives, it is essential. People need strong reading and math skills in order to keep pace in our increasingly complex world. Literacy allows people to find and keep a job, to find the information they need to protect their health, safety or legal rights. It helps them retain their independence and quality of life and enables them to actively take part in society. It allows parents to read to their children.

According to statistics collected by Literacy B.C., Canada ranks fifth in the world on an international test of reading prose (the ability to understand and use information from texts such as newspaper articles, instructional manuals, poems and fiction), after Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands. However in B.C. one in three adults still has a hard time with the everyday demands for reading, writing and using numbers.

What can we do to promote literacy?

• Read to your children. The first five years are highly important in the formation of pre-reading skills and language development. Children who have enjoyed picture books have a good start in learning to read.

• The best way to promote a love of reading in your child is to show her your own love of reading and books. Make regular visits to the public library. Take your child to pre-school story hours and library programs. Library cards and services are free for children.

• Give books as presents. What better way to promote literacy than by sharing books you have enjoyed?

• Encourage teens to stay in school. Individuals with higher skills earn more money, work more weeks per year, and are unemployed less that those with low skills.

• Encourage workplace literacy. Employers can find out how to introduce workplace literacy training.

• Volunteer to help other adults learn to read.

• READ! Take time to think about the importance of reading and writing in your life. Reading is a "use it — or lose it skill."

• Come to the Whistler Public Library and check out the display of books on literacy and the importance of reading.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates International Literacy Day on Sept. 8 every year. It calls attention to the need to eradicate illiteracy, one of UNESCO's primary concerns.

Literacy should be seen as an important evolutionary variable in every society. The more a society progresses, the greater is the need for adjustment to new demands and pressures, making literacy a lifelong necessity for all in all societies. It is becoming abundantly clear that the processes by which individuals acquire, maintain and enhance literacy occur within a socio-economic context rife with inequality. This creates an environment conducive to unequal outcomes, which has long-term consequences for societies and individuals: families’ economic well-being and literacy affect how their children face the future – the outcomes of one generation lay the foundation for the conditions and opportunities of the next.

Negative outcomes such as economic insecurity and poor literacy skills doubly jeopardize individuals’ life conditions, and render their choice-making more problematic. Moreover, both economic insecurity and marginal literacy skills can limit people’s opportunities, hindering social cohesion and exacerbating social exclusion.

UNESCO will continue to engage in activities designed to motivate, co-ordinate and mobilize national literacy efforts, as it has officially done since its proclamation on Sept. 8, the date of the inauguration of the 1965 World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy.


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