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SIL International Media Release


International Literacy Day
September 7
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On September 7th, 2001, SIL will join with other participating organizations of the International Literacy Network (ILN), in celebration of International Literacy Day.

Literacy is the key that unlocks a whole new world of information and communication. It allows people to be empowered and to improve their lives through education and understanding. Yet even in the twenty-first century illiteracy remains a pervasive problem around the globe, predominately centered in developing countries. According to SIL International Literacy Coordinator, Pat Kelley, "the numbers are staggering—one billion illiterates in the world, two-thirds of these are women, and one-half of world illiterates are speakers of lesser-known languages".

First established in 1968 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Literacy Day highlights the status of adult and children's literacy and the work still to be done. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC will host this year's event, and three of their museums will have special programs related to literacy that day. SIL International will participate with an exhibit in the Ripley Center and will sponsor a luncheon for selected members of the ILN. Following these special events, SIL will also be involved in the First Lady's Book Festival on September 8th.

Demonstrating that illiteracy is an important concern, SIL remains committed to helping unlock the power of literacy for adults and children through work in 1,000 languages in more than fifty countries. Well over two million people have become literate as a direct result of SIL's literacy programs, with many more millions indirectly.