Events are being held around Switzerland on Saturday to mark the 30th anniversary of the 'Read and Write'external link association, whose courses have helped 25,000 adults. September 8 is also International Literacy Dayexternal link.
According to UNESCO, International Literacy Dayexternal link celebrations have taken place annually around the world since 1967 "to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights".
The Swiss Reading and Writing Associationexternal link says that despite Switzerland's advanced education system, 800,000 people still struggle to read and write and around 400,000 have problems with simple calculations. The small Alpine nation has a population of around 8.5 million.external link
Most illiterate people in Switzerland have completed compulsory education but have missed numerous classes. Others have simply lost the basic skills through lack of practice over the years. Some 30,000 of those with difficulties live in canton Valais, southwest Switzerland, where the department of economics and training has set aside CHF600,000 ($615,700) for an information and training campaign. It is one of ten Swiss cantons targeting the problem.
Swiss public television, RTS, spoke to a mother who overcame illiteracy with the help of the 'Read and Write' non-profit organisation.