Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Proclamation 3739—International Literacy Day

August 30, 1966

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

It is not difficult to test a man for literacy. Ask him to write a simple message.

Or to read one.

Millions upon untold millions of persons cannot pass that test. Their communication with their fellow man is severely limited. Their intelligence is unformed by contact with the written word. They live out their lives in the darkness of ignorance.

Illiteracy is the greatest single barrier to economic and social progress in many of the countries of the world. The people of Angola are 97 percent illiterate. Rhodesia is 93 percent illiterate.

Haiti has the highest illiteracy rate in the Western Hemisphere—nearly 90 percent.

In Iraq, in Iran, in Bolivia and in many more countries the majority of men and women cannot read and write. Even in our own country where education is accorded its proper importance, there are three million illiterate adults.

September 8, 1966 is the first anniversary of an event which I believe was the turning point in the battle against illiteracy. On that date one year ago the World Congress of Ministers of Education convened in Tehran, Iran to consider the problem.

That Congress, made up in part by a delegation of distinguished statesmen and scholars sent by the United States Government, established the principles which now guide the highly commendable efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Through experimental projects UNESCO is creating methods, techniques, and materials for full-scale literacy programs.

Here at home education is receiving concentrated attention. A partnership of Federal, State, and local authorities is working to provide America with an educational system commensurate with our position of world leadership. More than a dozen major pieces of education legislation enacted in the past three years have added greatly to the effectiveness of the partnership.

Our efforts for education of quality and equality extend to those adult citizens who have received little or no formal schooling. They are not discards of our society. They must share in its economic, social, and cultural benefits. New adult education programs will equip them to participate as fully as possible.

The work of the United States of America to eradicate ignorance does not stop at our shores. Nowhere in the world is the universal desire to eliminate illiteracy held more passionately than in this Nation which was founded on belief in the dignity, worth, and perfectibility of the individual. Our worldwide endeavors—individual, private, and governmental—are unsurpassed.

In recognition of the foregoing, the Congress has, by a joint resolution of August 27, 1966, authorized and requested the President to proclaim the 8th day of September 1966 as International Literacy Day:

Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 8, 1966, as International Literacy Day, and call upon the people of the United States to commemorate that day in ways most appropriate to the occasion and to reaffirm our strong desire to cooperate with national and international organizations, private groups, and individuals dedicated to the goal of eliminating the scourge of illiteracy.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this 30th day of August in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-first.

Signature of Lyndon B. Johnson


By the President:


Secretary of State

Lyndon B. Johnson, Proclamation 3739—International Literacy Day Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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