SHARJAH, 8th September, 2023 (WAM) -- According to a recent UN report, 773 million adults worldwide grapple with fundamental reading and writing deficits, depriving them of their rights and opportunities for education, employment, and meaningful social participation.
And to overcome this challenge, the world annually observes International Literacy Day on September 8 to advance collective and concerted efforts to bridge the knowledge divide by promoting better access to knowledge and literacy.
Illiteracy, an affliction felt universally, calls for a collaborative approach, drawing upon the collective strength of institutions and individuals to mitigate its adverse impact on pursuing comprehensive and sustainable development objectives. This annual occasion, therefore, shines light on the tireless endeavours of international institutions and organisations dedicated to advancing literacy, promoting books, and facilitating access to knowledge, both in the Arab region and across the globe.
In the Arab world, Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone serves as a model of support for the global book industry & a key driver of UAE's knowledge building efforts.
The entity's relentless efforts to promote literacy worldwide by supporting the publishing sector and creative industries, are reflected in its myriad offerings and a business-friendly environment, which empower and enable industry players to thrive and produce quality educational and literary content tailored to stimulate individuals of all age groups.
SPC Free Zone also fosters collaborative innovation within the industry by promoting and facilitating knowledge and expertise exchange between publishers.
Mansour Al Hassani, Director of Publisher Services at the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Acting Director of SPC Free Zone (SPCFZ), underscored the significance of International Literacy Day and the integral role Sharjah plays in implementing strategies to eradicate illiteracy globally.
"SPC Free Zone embodies the vision of Sharjah - the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019-20 - to strengthen culture, education and creativity in society, closely aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly #4, that is to 'ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all'", he said.
"We are committed to bolstering the publishing sector through the free zone's comprehensive services and facilities. Our practical approach includes promoting the creation of quality content and the production of books locally to increase access and ignite a passion for reading, nurture a love for knowledge, and support global efforts to eradicate illiteracy. We believe education and reading are fundamental human rights and the bedrock for sustainable development", he added.
SPC Free Zone's efforts encompass a spectrum of initiatives, including robust collaborations with publishers and creators. The free zone is home to over 1,500 publishers and investors from more than 40 countries, offering them unique and state-of-the-art facilities to create and distribute high-quality educational and cultural content and facilitating their access to readers regionally and globally.
The efforts don't stop there. It proactively supports literacy campaigns and educational initiatives through partnerships with governmental and private entities, such as the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA).
SPC Free Zone is also home to Lightning Source Sharjah - the first large-scale print-on-demand operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, revolutionising book printing by facilitating high-quality, rapid production and global distribution, empowering publishers to manage their inventories and reduce printing expenses efficiently.
Furthermore, it spares no effort to champion raising the quality of educational and cultural content, foster cultural exchange between nations, and spearhead literacy campaigns to cultivate a culture of reading among all segments and age groups.