Making literacy a priority

Source: UNESCO
The 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, released on 19 January, argues that the crisis could create a lost generation of children whose life chances will have been irreparably damaged by a failure to protect their right to education. The Report examines who these children are and why they are being left behind, and shows that the cost of providing Education for All is much higher than previously estimated. January 2010. [see more]
How can we address the issue of the information and knowledge society without first dealing with the fact that almost a sixth of the world's population remains illiterate, and thus excluded from the possibility of effectively participating in a knowledge-driven society? What good are the advantages afforded by the new ICTs for the more than 860 million who cannot read and write? How can we even attempt to narrow the digital divide -thereby combating the inequality that separates the information 'haves' from the 'have-nots'- if we continue to ignore that a large sector of the world's population is denied access to the most basic tool for communicating in modern society?

The eradication of illiteracy -a goal long proclaimed by the international community- had advanced significantly over the second half of the 20th century. Now, however, the trend towards improving literacy levels seems to be slowing down and many fear that past gains may even be lost as resources for education are cut down, with some countries alarmingly moving backwards from previously high rates of literacy. Even the more affluent societies are not free from illiteracy, as surveys show that as much as 25% of citizens in developed countries are affected by functional illiteracy -that is, they may have learned to read or write but have either lost these skills or are unable to use them to solve the most basic tasks.

UNESCO's first progress report since the 2000 World Education Forum reveals that more than 70 countries will not be able to attain the goals set at Dakar for 2015, which include acceptable primary schooling for all children, eliminating gender disparities in school, and cutting adult illiteracy by fifty percent. The most negative outlook is for the sub-Saharan African countries, but other critical countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Arab states and China. And those who are closer to reaching the targets will only be able to do so with significant foreign aid. All this in the face of declining bilateral and multilateral aid for education.

While poverty, war, natural disasters, political commotion, and the ensuing displacement of populations, all contribute to aggravate the situation of education, the most important factor in the equation -the key to effectively reducing illiteracy- is political will. Although basic education is a human right formally recognized over 50 years ago by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and despite repeated and solemn declarations of the universality of human rights, in reality education is still not globally acknowledged as a right, as it is denied to a large proportion of humanity. But the promotion of education should not be seen only in terms of advocating human rights. Education is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and inequality, improving health and social well-being, and laying the basis for sustained economic growth and democracy.
That is why education has been included as one of the eight objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, setting the year 2015 as the deadline for achieving full primary schooling for children everywhere. That is also why, in late 2001, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the United Nations Literacy Decade for the period 2003-2012, in line with the goal set by the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar for achieving sound primary education for all children everywhere by 2015. The basic aim of the decade is to extend literacy to those who are currently deprived of it. The goal is that the more than 861 million illiterate adults and 113 million children without schooling shall acquire and use literacy as a means for communicating at their local level and in the wider society. So far, literacy efforts have failed to solve the educational needs of the poorest and most marginalized populations. The Decade will thus focus on these sectors. The initiative's expected outcomes are to create locally sustainable literate environments where people will be able express themselves, engage in effective learning and written communication, and exchange knowledge with others, increasingly incorporating electronic media and information technologies to communicate, access and utilize the wealth of knowledge available.

Literacy is considered a plural concept, whose particular meanings are determined by the use it is given in specific settings. As such, the Decade will promote diverse forms of literacy towards covering a wide range of purposes, contexts, languages and modes of acquisition, ensuring that literacy is relevant and useful to people in their daily lives. The Decade will seek to effectively join governments and civil society in a sustained effort to face up to the literacy challenge. While it is an effort that involves the UN system as a whole, UNESCO has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the initiative, which is also framed by the Education for All goal of increasing literacy rates by 50% by the year 2015
and the Millennium Development Goals.
Imprimir   Enviar    Correct 
      Versión en español
Wednesday, January 20 2010
Education for All - Global Monitoring Report 2010
(Source: UNESCO)
Thursday, December 10 2009
Civil society reviews the 6th Adult Education Conference
(Source: FISC blog)
Thursday, November 06 2008
Forging partnerships towards a renewed vision of adult education in Africa
(Source: African Platform for Adult Education)

Education as a human right

Right to education of afro-descendant and indigenous communities in the Americas (Inter-American Commission of Human Rights)

Disabilities and access to education (UN)

The Right to Education Project

UNESCO's Right to education portal

Millennium Development Goals

UN Commission on Human Rights resolution on the right to education (2003)

The road to literacy

Teachers and educational quality: monitoring global needs for 2015 (UNESCO)

UN Literacy Decade 2003-2012

There are nearly 900 million illiterates in the world today

UN Literacy Decade - Hope or Hype? (OneWorld)

Focus on literacy for a better world (UNESCO Courier)

Some thoughts on International Literacy Day (SDNPBD)

Backward and forward linkages that strengthen primary education (Economic and Political Weekly)

Adult education

Forging partnerships towards a renewed vision of adult education in Africa (African Platform for Adult Education)

Conference on adult education identifies new challenges (ICAE)

Writing the wrongs: International benchmarks on adult literacy (Global Campaign for Education)

Lifelong learning in the South: critical issues and opportunities for adult education (SIDA)

Literacy and Adult Education - Education for All 2000 Assessment Thematic (UNESCO)

Project Literacy

Adult Education - Reflect

Adult Literacy (SDNBD)

Literacy in Adults. (Education Today - UNESCO)

Education in special situations

Education's missing millions: including disabled children in education (Global Campaign for Education)

Education under attack (UNESCO)

The right to education during displacement (Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children)

Education for populations affected by conflict

The Danhiko Project - Zimbabwe

African Child Foundation (ACF)

Primary education in Eastern and Southern Africa (SchoolNet Africa)

Education in crisis and post-conflict situations (UNESCO)

Organizations campaigning for education

Education Now - Oxfam International

Global Campaign for Education

Education for all

Action Aid

Towards education for all

Education for All - Global Monitoring Report 2010 (UNESCO)

Civil society reviews the 6th Adult Education Conference (FISC blog)

The right to education in the world: a look to the goals of Education for All (ICAE)

Education: the challenge of universality (Social Watch)

Free or fee: state of the right to education worldwide (Right to Education Project)

Education: civil society pushes the way forward (UNESCO)

UN Summit: barriers to schooling undermine goals (Human Rights Watch)

Must do better: government's commitment to basic education in Asia Pacific (Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education)

UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) Portal

Education for all: is commitment enough?

2001 Oxfam Education Report (Oxfam)

Education for All and the World Bank (World Bank)

Education for all: fast track or slow trickle (Oxfam)

World state of education

Education for All - Global Monitoring Report 2009 (UNESCO)

Education for all by 2015: will we make it? (UNESCO)

Global monitoring report on education for all 2007 (UNESCO)

2006 Education For All global monitoring report (UNESCO)

Global education overview 2005 (Social Watch Report 2005)

Education in Africa: responding to a human rights violation

EFA 2000 Assessment country reports (UNESCO)

Background and perspective on literacy in India (Infochange India)

Education in Iraq (UNESCO)

Education in Northern Ireland (UNHCHR)

Education in Indonesia

Primary education in Latin America: the unfinished agenda (Inter-American Development Bank)

The gender dimension in education

A Fair Chance - Attaining gender equality in basic education by 2005 (GCE)

Girl's education

Accelerating progress in girls' education: 25 by 2005

Women and Gender in Education

Non-formal education

Working Group on Non-Formal Education (ADEA)

Tokyo Statement on Non-formal Education

Non-formal education centers reach farming and pastoralist children in Ethiopia

Community Learning Centres (CLCs)

Literacy and education resources

Literacy Exchange: World Resources on Literacy

Eldis Education Resource Guide

International Literacy Explorer

Asia Pacific Literacy Data Base

Education for All in India

International Literacy Institute (ILI)

Statistical Profile of Education in sub-Saharan Africa (SPESSA)

Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)

Choike is a project of the Third World Institute | Contact | Avda. 18 de julio 2095/301, Montevideo 11200, Uruguay | Phone: +598 2403 1424