International Literacy Day, 8 September 2004, will focus the world’s attention on the millions of children and adults who do not have access to literacy programmes and suffer from lack of education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has celebrated this day annually beginning in 1966. The goals include stimulating interest, inspiring action and cultivating active support from the international community for literacy activities – one of UNESCO’s major areas of work since its first General Conference in 1946.
The United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) began last year. Throughout the decade, United Nations agencies will set goals and take action to promote literacy and to bring education to all around the world.
UNICEF's work in literacy relates to the Millennium Development Goals and focuses on girls' education within the context of human rights. For UNICEF, girls' education is a top priority. The agency’s work in literacy covers a broad scope from early childhood through adolescence. All UNICEF country programmes contribute to literacy development, by supporting basic education for adolescents and early childhood stimulation and care.