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EFA Flagship Initiatives


Literacy in the Framework of United Nations Literacy Decade


The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2002 and 2003/4 revealed that:

There were still 862 million adult illiterates in 2000, representing 20 per cent of the adults aged 15 years and over.

The gender gap is wide and narrowing only slowly; two thirds of the world's illiterate population are women.

Around 61 per cent of people who lack literacy live in four of the world's high-population countries: India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Referring to the literacy goal set in Dakar, the Report states that, at present rates of progress, 79 countries will not be able to halve their rate of adult illiteracy by 2015.



This flagship aims at addressing the EFA challenge of illiteracy. Under UNESCO's leadership, United Nations Literacy Decade offers an opportunity to put special emphasis on literacy for all, and anticipates the creation of literate environments essential for achieving the EFA goals and the international development agenda (MDGs) including eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth and achieving gender equality.

This flagship promotes literacy, seen as a lifelong learning process that takes place both within and outside the school system. Thus, among other strategies, UNLD works to create synergy between formal and non-formal education.

The United Nations Literacy Decade International Plan of Action lays down the principle strategies.

Placing literacy at the centre of all levels of national education systems and developmental efforts.

Adopting an approach for promoting synergy between formal and non-formal education.

Promoting an environment supportive of literacy and a culture of reading.

Ensuring community involvement.

Building partnerships at all levels.

Developing systematic monitoring and evaluation processes supported by research and databases.


The major areas of activities articulated in the International Plan of Action are:

1) Policy, 2) Programme modality, 3) Capacity-building, 4) Research, 5) Community participation, and 6) Monitoring and evaluation.


UNESCO is in charge of coordinating the initiative at the international level. Partnerships include UNICEF, the World Bank, FAO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, WFP and WHO.

Contact information

Shigeru Aoyagi
Section for Literacy and Non-Formal Education
Division of Basic Education
Education Sector
7, Place Fontenoy
75325 Paris 07,
Phone : +33 (0)1 45 68 21 29
Fax : +33 (0) 1 45 68 55 17
E-mail :