United Nations Focuses on Improving Learning Outcomes to Benefit Business and Society

This week the United Nations marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of the U.N. charter. Leaders gathered virtually to address challenges and issues facing our global community. The UN site notes, “The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. Will we emerge stronger and better equipped to work together? Or will distrust and isolation grow further? 2020 must be a year of dialogue, when we come together to discuss our priorities as a human family, and how we can build a better future for all.”

Literacy is the key to delivering the potential of every human being; the key to opening up a future of freedom and hope. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United NationsOne of the most significant challenges facing our world today is improving literacy. Since 1946, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has been advancing the vision of a literate world for all. The “multiplier effect” of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improving livelihoods. But sadly, today, too few adults and children worldwide are proficient in reading and writing.

Literacy is a matter of dignity and a human right.

Did you know?

  • 773 million adults and young people lack basic literacy skills
  • 617 million children and adolescents are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics

Source: UN.org

To address this gap, the new five-year UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025) has four strategic priority areas:

  • developing national literacy policies and strategies
  • addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged groups, particularly women and girls
  • leveraging digital technologies to expand access and improve learning outcomes
  • monitoring progress and assessing literacy skills and programs.

The new Strategy is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal on Education (SDG4) and Education 2030 Agenda to mobilize stronger political and financial commitment to equal and equitable access to quality education to leave no one behind. (Learn more: https://en.unesco.org/themes/education)

Business Response

Investing in education is essential to developing a skilled workforce for the future and improving economic growth. Business leaders around the world have recognized education as one of the most urgent sustainability challenges.

Formed in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact brings together business leaders from over 11,000 companies from 157 nations. They have recognized education as an urgent and critical investment to expand business opportunities, create a more skilled workforce, increase productivity, and drive business growth. The coalition recognizes that education is not only good for society but also good for business. (Learn more at: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/our-work/social/education)


About UNESCO: UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.