2001 UNESCO COMENIUS MEDAL AWARDED TO LEADERS IN LITERACY AND
Geneva, September 6 (N°2001-94
)– Integrating disabled children into a mainstream Bulgarian
school, building the first pan-African teachers organization, sending
thousands of university student volunteers to work in Brazil’s slums,
UNESCO today honoured these and other initiatives around the world at the
presentation of the 2001 UNESCO Comenius Medals.
John Daniel, head of UNESCO’s Education Sector, and Pieter de Meijer,
president of the International Bureau of Education (IBE) Council, presented
the medals to eight laureates and institutions in a ceremony at the 46th
International Conference on Education, a four-day meeting attended by 80
Ministers of Education and some 800 teachers and delegates from 180
At the award ceremony, Mr Daniel called the denial of basic education to
hundreds of millions of people “the greatest moral challenge of our
time”. He said that one in four adults is illiterate and that one third of
all children below the age of six do not receive early childhood education.
The 2001 Comenius Medal went to the following laureates:
Founded in 1923, Bulgaria’s Atanas
Bourov machine-building vocational school is the first in Bulgaria where
disabled children have been integrated successfully into a mainstream
school. Beginning with the 1999-2000 school year, 75 disabled students were
integrated into the school after parents could find no other opportunities
for their children to continue their studies.
Solidária project of Brazil was cited for combating poverty and
social exclusion through two flagship programmes. Universidade
Solidária engages university students in community work in
Brazil’s poorest neighbourhoods. By the end of 2001, the initiative will
have counted the participation of more than 12,000 students from 160
universities. Alfabetização Solidária
is a national movement to eradicate illiteracy.
The Life Science Project 1990-2000
of the Namibian Ministry of Basic Education and Culture was cited for being
a “spearhead” of national educational reform and a rare example of an
initiative where “classroom practice has influenced policy and curriculum
development”. The project has
trained 1,800 science teachers at the junior secondary level, through the
support of DANIDA and co-implemented by IBIS, a Danish NGO.
Sook Jong Lee of the Republic of
Korea is one of the world’s leading scholars on Jan Amos Comenius. In a
speech at the ceremony, Mr Lee highlighted the “incomparable
contributions” of the 17th century Czech humanist and
theologian, a homeless refugee who went on to author nearly 200 books and to
promote lasting reforms in education and society.
Kader Ahmed of Bahrain was cited for his “modern methods in teaching
Arabic language to non-native speakers.” He is the author of more than
forty books on pedagogy and curriculum development in the Arab world.
Thomas Ango Bediako of Ghana is a co-founder of the All-Africa Teacher’s
Organization and initiated the launch of the Pan-African Centre to provide
services to teacher’s organizations in Africa. Mr Ango Bediako currently
is the African regional coordinator for Education International, the world's
largest educators' federation.
Dr Pablo Latapí Sarre of Mexico
was cited as “one of the founding fathers of educational research in Latin
America.” He founded the first educational journal in Mexico and was one
of the leading figures behind the establishment of the Citizen’s
Observatory of Education (Observatorio
Ciudadano de Educación) and the
Centro de Estudios Educativos.
A posthumous medal was awarded to Yves
Brunsvick of France, a fervent advocate of new teaching methods for
French as a second language during his 30-year teaching career at the
Sorbonne. Mr Brunsvick, a former president of the IBE Council, also served
as secretary general of the French National Commission to UNESCO from
The Comenius Medal was established in 1992 by the government of the Czech
Republic and UNESCO to honour contributions to teaching excellence and to
highlight the originality or effectiveness of pedagogical methods.