In a bid to extend literacy to the 861 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write and the 113 million children out of school, the United Nations today launched the Literacy Decade.”Literacy remains part of the unfinished business of the 20th century. One of the success stories of the 21st century must be the extension of literacy to include all humankind,” Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said at the ceremony to kick-off the Decade at UN Headquarters in New York.Emphasizing that literacy is a prerequisite for a “health, just and prosperous world,” Ms. Fréchette noted that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls and women and that is why the first two years of the decade will focus on “Literacy and gender.””When women are educated and empowered the benefits can be seen immediately: families are healthier; they are better fed; their income, savings and reinvestment go up,” the Deputy Secretary-General said. “And what is true of families is true of communities – ultimately, indeed, of whole countries.”Joining Ms. Fréchette at the ceremony was the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, under whose direction the Decade, which has the theme, “Literacy as Freedom,” will be coordinated.In his remarks, Mr. Matsuura said through literacy, the downtrodden could find their voice, the poor could learn how to learn and the powerless could empower themselves. In that light, the drive for universal literacy was integrally linked to the human rights agenda. Literacy was not a universal panacea for all development problems, but, as a tool of development, it was both versatile and proven.For his part, President Natsagiyn Bagabandi of Mongolia, the driving force behind the initiative, warned that the international community would fail to guarantee equal human rights for all as long as it accepted illiteracy. Literacy was not only the primary requirement for economic well-being, but also a solid base for a lifelong investment in a better and happy life.Notwithstanding the progress and development made in the new information-based century, he added, the virtual elimination of illiteracy called for an effective partnership based on redoubled efforts, resource mobilization and coordination of relevant policies and strategies at the global level.The implementation of the Decade’s plan of action, prepared by UNESCO, will be organized around themes with biennial focuses such as gender, poverty, health, peace and freedom.
I see Leeds has gone all Mad Max on us tonight… #Scenes 🏍— Gavin Wilson (@GavWilson) October 31, 2016 Jack Hurley, who posted footage from the road showing bikers doing wheelies, added: “Bloody hell – it has all gone a bit Mad Max.”Others described the group as a “nuisance” and “scary”. One warned: “About 50 mopeds and quads causing chaos and damage all along Kirkstall Road and surrounding areas. Don’t go out if you don’t have to.” If anyone fancies the fright of their life tonight try driving through the dirt bike carnage currently happening on Kirkstall Road. #hellish— Kerry Ramsay (@kezmatronic) October 31, 2016 Dozens of “Mad Max” bikers caused Halloween chaos in Leeds with police forced to close a major road after a “ride out” was organised on social media.Footage taken by a pedestrian showed off-road bikes and quads racing down Kirkstall Road on Monday night, with some doing U-turns and riding on the pavement.Residents compared the scene to one from post-apocalyptic show Mad Max. One wrote on Twitter: “Apparently part of Kirkstall Rd is now closed due to rampaging biker gangs. #Leeds is dressed up as Mad Max for Halloween, it seems.” A teenager, 16, was arrested near London Bridge on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle while the final person, a 22-year-old man, was arrested for dangerous driving and driving without insurance in the Streatham area.Superintendent Ade Adelekan, from the Met Command and Control, said the riders’ “recklessness” endangered themselves, other road users and pedestrians.He added: “This is totally unacceptable behaviour that tied up significant resources that could have been better employed in emergency situations elsewhere.” No arrests were made in Leeds. West Yorkshire Police confirmed the event had been organised on social media. A spokesman said the road was closed as the bikers were riding up and down it causing disruption to traffic.The road is believed to have been closed for 90 minutes before police were able to reopen it. The footage came as the Metropolitan Police announced it had made eight arrests following a ride-out across London on Sunday.Four men, aged between 17 and 32, were arrested in Blackheath for failing to stop, while two others, aged 20 and 28, were arrested near London Bridge for failing to stop and dangerous driving. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.