According to UNESCO’s 1958 definition, the term refers to the ability of an individual to read and write with understanding a simple short statement related to his/her everyday life. The concept of literacy has since evolved to embrace several skill domains, each conceived on a scale of different mastery levels and serving different purposes.

Example of use

Placing responsibility for literacy: There is also no empirical evidence to guide the placement of a governmental agency for promoting literacy. The logical home for such an agency would seem to be the ministry of education, and this is indeed where most agencies are located. However, in some countries, the agency is under the ministry of labour or the ministry of social development. In at least one country, the agency was established under the Prime Minister’s office. Ideally, as literacy is a set of transversal, cross-cutting or general skills, the agency should be established and financed in a manner that enables it most readily to arrange for literacy work to fit in with and support the efforts of other development-oriented ministries, such as those of labour, employment, social affairs, industry, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry and similar departments (Oxenham, 2008: 59).

Source :

Oxenham, John. 2008. Effective literacy programmes: options for policy-makers. Fundamentals of Educational Planning 91. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP.