Are books a vector of knowledge?
(By Thierry Dime Bolla)
23 April is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date, Shakespeare died. It was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.
Historically books have been the most powerful factor in the dissemination of knowledge and the most effective means of preserving it. Consequently, all moves to promote their dissemination will serve not only greatly to enlighten all those who have access to them, but also to develop fuller collective awareness of cultural traditions throughout the world. Therefore, UNESCO has proclaimed 23 April of every year ‘World Book and Copyright Day’.
Books are a fundamental means of access to knowledge of values, wisdom, aesthetic sense and human imagination. As vectors of creation, information and education, they allow every culture to print their essential features and to see the identity of others. As a window on the diversity of cultures and a bridge between civilizations, beyond time and space, books are a source of dialogue, a means of exchange and a source of development.
Promoting this day will make people aware of phenomena such as illiteracy or analphabetism. These phenomena, which also exist in developed countries (According to the Federal Office of the Swiss statistics, 16% of the population between 16 to 65 years old are incapable of reading and understanding a simple text) are very recurrent in undeveloped countries. Analphabetism keeps people not only from participating actively in the socio-political life of the nation, but also limits their individual development. This is why it is more than ever necessary to support any action to reduce analphabetism and help the development of Men.