Saturday 7 September 2013

UNESCO says ‘84% of world population now literates’

Ahead of tomorrow’s International Literacy Day, the Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, disclosed that there has been an increase in the world’s literate population. 

Bokova, according to a recent UN Information Centre (UNIC) press release, said "84 per cent of the world's population" can read and write, indicating an increase from “76 per cent in 1990”. While noting that the illiterate population, over the period of 20 years has reduced  by more than 100 million people, Bokova warned that much need to be done.
Improving Litracy in Africa

The D-G said women make up two thirds of the 774 million illiterate adults as well as out-of-school children and young people that are mostly girls. The statistics of out-of-school children, according to Bokova include 57 million primary school-age and 69 million secondary school-age.

And the imbalance, she argued, is not restricted to developing nation. "Even in economically developed countries, the proportion of the population lacking basic reading and writing skills is too high". The challenge, she added, is an obstacle to "the development of societies and mutual understanding between peoples”.

The new data show that most of the world’s illiterate adults live in South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. On the basis of current trends, 743 million adults (15 years and older) will still lack basic literacy skills in 2015, the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.  Two thirds of these people are women.
Activities lined up for the International Literacy Day: 
An international colloquium on this issue will be held at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters on Monday 9 September, as part of the celebration for the International Day. Opened by the Director-General, the event will bring together ministers and deputy ministers of education, development and culture from Afghanistan, Benin, the Republic of Chad, India, Namibia, Pakistan and Senegal, along with representatives from other intergovernmental organizations, NGO’s working in education and literacy, and the private sector. 
The award ceremony for UNESCO’s annual literacy prizes will take place following this event (6.30 pm, Room 4). This year’s awards are being presented to winners from Bangladesh, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, India and Namibia. 
 On Tuesday 10 September, the five laureates, along with Sugata Mitra, TED Prize 2013 winner, professor  of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University (UK) will participate in a panel session on Promising Pathways to a Literate World (3 pm to 6 pm, Room xx)

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