Sep 08, 2016 08:39 UTC

September 8 has been marked as International Literacy Day ever since UNESCO of the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization, declared it as such fifty years ago. It is the day on which countries survey the challenges of literacy and make better efforts for removing illiteracy.  

Literacy is the main tool for economic and social developments and a significant mean for removing poverty by creating job opportunities, improving health, and promotion of democratic participation of all sections of the society. According to the last figure released by UNESCO, the rate of literacy in the world has increased to 10% in the past 20 years. The organization which define literacy as the ability of reading and writing has declared that despite rise of literacy in the world, still 758 million people are illiterate and about two third of them are women. This year UNESCO celebrates the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future” in commemorating five decades of national and international attempts for increasing the rate of literacy among people of the world. The emphasis of Islam on literacy is to the extent that the first ayahs which were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (blessing of God upon him and his progeny) focused on reading with the words:

“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the most generous, who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.”

In the holy Qur’an, God has explicitly considered education as one of the goals of sending Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). The Prophet always stressed the role of education. According to Islam acquisition of knowledge is an absolute necessity and has no restriction – neither restriction of time nor restriction of place nor other restriction. A famous Hadith of the Prophet of Islam says: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”.

He also said "Seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim." After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (God bless him) insisted on promoting literacy and removing illiteracy from the Iranian society. In a message on the importance of literacy, he once said: “Of the most essential necessities for all people, maybe more important than hygiene and home, is education. It is of disgrace that a country which have been the cradle of science and lives under the banner of Islam which has incubated education, deprived of literacy. For this, it is an obligation for all illiterate people for learning and all literate people for teaching to embark, and so Ministry of Education embarks with all equipment. Brothers and sisters mobilize to eradicate this painful flaw. Teaching and Learning is devotion that Lord has invited us to it. Imam Khomeini invited literate people in counties and villages and in mosques to teach reading and writing to others, and never wait for government measures.”

With this statement Imam Khomeini decreed Formation of the Literacy Movement, Nehzat-e  Savad Amuzi.

So effective have been the steps taken by Iran since then, that as of September 2015, over 93% of the Iranian adult population were literate. In 2008, 85% of the Iranian adult population were literate, well ahead of the regional average of 62%. This rate increases to 97% among young adults (aged between 15 and 24) without any gender discrepancy. The result has been astounding with the country mastering peaceful nuclear energy, succeeding in stem cell technology, and has acquired a commendable position in NANO technology.

Iran’s progress in stem cells is also exemplary. After bio technology, stem cells are considered the second revolution in medicine. These cells which are found in all periods of human life can have an important role in healing diseases. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Royan Research Institute is one of the main research centers which are active in this field and it has managed to gain access to the knowledge of cloning. Nuclear medicine, progress in producing anti-cancer drug, treatment of spinal cord injury with the help of SCHWANN CELLS and the successful production of anti-AIDs drug Imod are some other valuable achievements of Iranian scientists in the field of medical science.

All these are the fruits of the literacy campaign started by Imam Khomeini 37 years ago.