Literacy is the ability to read and write. It is one of the most important skills a person can have, with reading and writing being the foundation of education. Every year, on the 8th of September, the United Nations (UN) celebrates International Literacy Day. Literacy Day is meant to raise people’s awareness of and concern for literacy issues in the world.  

International Literacy Day Banner | Source: Medium

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world. Most of these illiterate adults are women who come from least developed or war-torn countries. There is a large disparity in the literacy rate between impoverished regions like sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia and developed regions like Europe and North America.  

Book With Reading Glasses | Source: Pixabay

Though there are a lot of illiterate adults, the overall international literacy rate has increased. According to the World Bank, the average literacy rate around the world in 2020 is 87%. 

School Classroom | Source: Pixabay

 As education becomes more accessible and valued by society, the average literacy rate increases. Education and literacy go hand-in-hand, along with numeracy (the ability to read numbers). Though the definition of literacy varies from country to country, a more literate population is able to grow economically.  

Painting of Vuk Stefanovic | Source: Wikimedia

As a way to emphasize the importance of literacy and education, some countries honor the people who have developed the education sector, while other countries honor teachers and students. One way to show that education is valuable is by depicting it in banknotes. Here are some banknotes that highlight education and literacy.  

Serbia 10 Dinara Banknote | 2013 | Source: Banknote World

The 10 Serbian dinar note honors Vuk Stefanovic, a Serbian language scholar. He is most famous for being the father of Serbian folk-literature scholarship. He is also known for reforming the Cyrillic alphabet and adapting it for the Serbian language, creating the modern Serbian alphabet.  

Zambia 2 Kwacha | 1980 | Source: Banknote World Educational

The 2 Zambian kwacha note depicts a teacher and also a student. The teacher is guiding the student in front of the school building. Zambia has a strong primary education. However, the number of students decreases from primary to secondary education, with almost half of the students dropping out. This decrease is due to a number of factors, especially the lack of secondary schools in the country.  

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