2016 International #Literacy Prizes award ceremony marks 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day

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On the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day, 8 September, the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova will award this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes to five innovative programmes from India, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The awards, to be presented in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, are attributed to projects in line with the ‘Innovation’ theme of this year’s International Literacy Prizes. The prizes recognize literacy work with vulnerable and marginalized groups.

In her message for International Literacy Day Ms Bokova said: “The world has changed since 1966, but our determination to provide every woman and man with the skills, capacities and opportunities to become everything they wish, in dignity and respect, remains as firm as ever. Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all.”

Worldwide there remain 758 million adults who cannot read or write a simple sentence, two thirds of them women (UNESCO Institute for Statistics). The two-day anniversary event on September 8 and 9, entitled Reading the Past, Writing the Future, will review achievements and lessons learnt over the last half century and identify challenges and solutions within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The King Sejong Literacy Prize, which is sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea and gives special consideration to the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training, is awarded to the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development’s programme Books for rural areas of Vietnam and to the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia of the University of Mahidol in Thailand for its programme Patani Malay-Thai Bi/Multilingual Education Project.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy—supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and dedicated to literacy work benefitting rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women—is awarded to laureates in South Africa, India, and Senegal: The South African Department of Basic Education for its Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign; the Jan Shikshan Sansthan organization in Kerala, India, for its programme, Vocational Skill Development for Sustainable Development, and the Directorate of Literacy and National Languages in Senegal for its National Education Programme for Illiterate Youth and Adults through ICTs.

The award-winning programmes use innovative methods to transform lives. The Vietnamese project brings books and the know-how to establish libraries to rural communities, while the project in Thailand aims to improve the integration of the Patani Malay minority by providing teaching in their own language. The South African mass literacy campaign changes lives through literacy using community volunteers while the Indian programme offers life skills as well as literacy and the Senegal programme aims to introduce youth and adults to ICTs.

As part of the celebrations on September 8, UNESCO will also launch the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III), which calls on all countries to invest in lifelong learning. The report makes a case for the major contribution that adult learning can bring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Global Alliance for Literacy, a cross-sector partnership to help UNESCO Member States boost progress towards the literacy targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 for education, will also be launched on 8 September and a panel discussion on Literacy and the Global Agenda will take place on September 9.

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