International Literacy Day

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International Literacy Day  (1971) 
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
Speech of September 10, 1971

Today marks International Literacy Day which is being observed for the fifth time through the aegis of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We have explained in the past its aims and objectives.

We take this opportune time to stress anew the importance of education and to urge those engaged in the field to strive harder still and those who have to learn to redouble their efforts.

Education is the key to success for every citizen, who is expected to serve his country with the dictates of the time. this service will be more fruitful if it is backed by education.

We can cite as an example here the role of science and technology in agriculture, for through better seeds and fertilizers harvests have been greatly improved and increased.

As We have always noted in the past education is the key to the success and development of Our people and We urge all to strive for higher education. On its part, Our government has never ceased from encouraging or contributing its share.

Mankind, be it in past, present of future, has always been judged not by color, or creed, but by the wealth of its knowledge. It is only through learning and knowledge that one can give valuable service of benefit to a country, and it is with this in mind that We have always urged and encouraged the young and the adult to learn. In this connection the adult education programme, launched through the co-operation of government and private agencies, has achieved much since its inceptions, taking into consideration the time required to introduce and publicize the programme.

We are aware that more than a million persons have learned to read and write, throwing off the bonds of illiteracy. this is indeed a great blessing and an example for others to follow by not wasting their spare time idly.

At this juncture We would like to recall what We said a few years ago, namely, never despair of learning lest knowledge bypass you. True education is not only beneficial to individuals but also to one's country. True education goes hand in hand with one's culture and heritage and strengthens one's belief in God Almighty.

The young and the adult will not be a burden to their country, if they strive for education and that is why all should eagerly seek learning.

Educational programmes follow the dictates of the times. Academic education is not enough, it should be augmented by other practical learning taking into consideration the needs of everyday life. This additional learning can be acquired through books and magazines or it can be incorporated into educational curricula.

The vocational-oriented training programmes launched in Chilalo, Arussi Governorate, and in Wollano, Sidamo governorate, have given encouraging results. Plans are underway to launch similar programmes in other governorates which should be prepared to emulate them.

This adult literacy programme being carried out by the National Literacy Campaign Organization with the help of individuals, private and government agencies deserves the support of all. It is through such a programme that the fight against ignorance can be intensified and the consequences stemming from ignorance such as injustice and humiliation could be stamped out , thereby ensuring national development, the welfare of individuals as well as peace and prosperity among nations.

As We have said in the past, the fight against ignorance calls for global efforts. Ethiopia, which is aware of the problems, will fully participate in these world-wide efforts, and that is why this country is showing commendable results from year to year in the fight against illiteracy.

For this effort to show still better results, it is imperative that those who have had the privilege of formal education teach their less fortunate brothers and sisters. this must be done now lest one fall behind the times and regret the consequences later.

This is the age of competition, irrespective of the fields of activities, and calls for dedication, Everyone, regardless of his age, should strive to learn. It would be inconceivable for a person to appreciate the meaning of life and living itself without education. It would even be impossible for a person to utilize his God-given gifts.

We thank all those who have taken part in the National Literacy Campaign programmes as well as those who have benefited from these programmes, and We commend the former, for what they did was in accord with their national obligation.

We would also like to thank on this day UNESCO, the various private and governmental agencies, individuals and association for their efforts and financial contributions in the fight against illiteracy. Our appreciations also go to the Shah of Iran and the Government of the Soviet Union for providing moral and financial support to the world-wide campaign against illiteracy providing international prizes annually through UNESCO to outstanding national literacy efforts.

We urge boy scouts and children in Ethiopia to take an active part in this noble effort of teaching others as of the present academic year. We also urge officials in the various governorates to impress upon the people the importance of the literacy campaign in accordance with the directives issued in the past by our Minister of Interior. We pray to the Almighty to bless Our efforts.

This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work is in the public domain because it was first created in Ethiopia.

Under Title XI of the 1960 Ethiopian Civil Code, copyright exists only during the lifetime of the author.

In addition, any potential Ethiopian copyrights are non-binding in the United States, according to Circ. 38a of the US Copyright Office.

Translation:
This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.