Building peace in the minds of men and women

What UNESCO does on literacy


© UNESCO/Anne Müller

UNESCO works through its global network, field offices and institutes and with its Member States and partners to advance literacy in the framework of lifelong learning, and address the literacy target 4.6 in SDG4 and the Education 2030 Framework for Action.

Youth and adult literacy

Within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and with the Education 2030 Framework for Action as a roadmap to achieve the SDG4, UNESCO’s work for youth and adult literacy is centered on five strategies:

  • Developing Member States’ capacity  in policies, programme delivery and literacy assessments
  • Scaling up literacy actions for girls and women
  • Reinforcing innovative modes of literacy delivery, including the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)
  • Expanding the knowledge base, monitoring and evaluation
  • Advocating for literacy on the global agenda and ensuring synergies between different actions, including through multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks

Capacity development  

UNESCO supports the literacy efforts of Member States in the areas of policies, programme delivery and literacy assessment through a range of literacy projects, and the following development programmes:

Girls’ and women’s literacy

UNESCO promotes gender equality in all of its literacy work by supporting gender-sensitive and gender-responsive policies and through advocacy; strategic partnerships; resource mobilization and targeting programmes for girls and women.

The Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education: Better Life, Better Future is a multi-sectoral network initiated by UNESCO which supports quality education and literacy learning for girls and women at secondary school level. As part of this the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education works to improve literacy skills of girls and women.   

Fostering innovation and harnessing potential of ICTs    

UNESCO encourages innovative literacy solutions and access to lifelong learning through the use of ICTs by supporting dialogue and cross-sector collaboration that connects and promotes literacy learning with digital technologies.

Knowledge base, monitoring and evaluation

UNESCO has a clearinghouse function that provides cutting-edge research on literacy from around the world, based on monitoring and evaluation of literacy progress and best practices.

Advocacy and building partnerships 

UNESCO advocates for literacy through global consultations and events, major initiatives and cross-sector partnerships to create awareness and place literacy on the global agenda.

  • International Literacy Day (ILD) is a major annual event for literacy advocacy held on the 8 September since 1946. UNESCO organizes a global event with the International Literacy Prize award ceremony, and celebrations are held around the world by Field Offices, Institutes, NGOs, teachers, learners and partners.
  • Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) is a multisector partnership under UIL, established in 2016 on the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day to accelerate literacy progress in the framework of lifelong learning.
  • UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme is a network promoting international inter-university cooperation, to reinforce learning capacities through dialogue and knowledge sharing.