Government agencies and NGOs that have made an outstanding contribution to literacy were today presented with awards.
The awards were given at UNESCO’s annual awards ceremony to highlight organisations that have helped to promote the importance of literacy.
The five laureates of this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes include organisations from in Chile, Madagascar, Mozambique, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.
This year the thematic focus chosen for International Literacy Day is ‘Literacy and Sustainable Societies’ and the international jury was guided by that theme when proposing the laureates. The prizes will be awarded by the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, on International Literacy Day on 8 September.
“Women and men all over the world need literacy to take charge of their lives,” said Ms Bokova. “Likewise, literacy is indispensable to raise awareness and gather necessary grass roots participation in our efforts to improve the way we care for our planet and manage its resources,” the Director-General added. “This transformation can only happen if society’s most vulnerable youth and adults acquire basic literacy skills that equip them with the knowledge and confidence to improve their own lives and build more resilient communities”.
The laureates of the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes are:
Associação Progresso – a Mozambican nongovernmental organization, known for its effective programme ‘Literacy in Local Languages, Springboard for Gender Equality’.
Sri Lanka’s National Institute of Education – recognised for its ‘Open School Programme’. The programme helps disadvantaged groups with their learning needs and it provides out-of-school youth and adults to continue their academic, technical or vocational training. The programme also helps working and farming communities to improve their income by offering them continuing education.
The recipients of the three UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy are:
Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA and Post-ASAMA, an NGO in Madagascar that offers a variety of literacy courses for people with no literacy skills (40% of the population), technical and vocational training. The programme also helps graduates to find a job or start their own business. The programme has been replicated in Burkina Faso and Chad.
Juan Luis Vives School of Valparaiso – a school in Chile, honoured for its programme ‘Alfabetización de las personas privadas de libertad’ (Literacy for People Deprived of Liberty). The programme’s aim is offering formal basic education to prisoners in order to smooth out their reintegration into society after they have left prison.
Svatobor – an association, in Slovakia, recognised for its ‘Romano Barado’ programme. The programme addresses the issue of social exclusion of the Roma community. The programme uses an innovative approach by linking environmental sustainability to nutrition and vocational training.
Each of the five laureates received a diploma, a medal and 20,000 USD (€18 000). The award ceremony is taking place on 8 September in Paris, France, at UNESCO’s Headquarters.