United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  

  International Literacy Day - 8 September 2000  

  Director-General's Message
  Celebration 2000
  Literacy prizes 2000
  Sidelights on History
  Literacy with a Human Face
  Reflection on Literacy Day
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Literacy Prizes of the Year 2000  

International Reading Association Literacy Award

Noma Literacy Prize

King Sejong Literacy Prizes and

Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize

Meeting from 24 to 28 July 2000 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, THE JURY, appointed by the Director-General to award the International Reading Association Literacy Award, the Noma Literacy Prize, the King Sejong Literacy Prizes and the Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize in recognition of the services of institutions, organizations or individuals having distinguished themselves by making a particularly meritorious and effective contribution to the struggle against illiteracy,

Recalling that the International Reading Association Literacy Award, the Noma Literacy Prize, the King Sejong Literacy Prizes and the Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize were established in 1979, 1980, 1989 and 1998 respectively through the generosity of the International Reading Association, the late Mr Shoichi Noma of Japan and the Governments of the Republic of Korea and India,

Recognizing that the demanding challenges of literacy cannot be met unless the necessary political will and commitment of Member States is aroused, the active participation of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, especially those working at the grassroots level, is ensured and a broad movement of international solidarity is created,

Having examined 24 nominations submitted by governments in compliance with the stipulations and criteria of the General Rules Governing the Award of Prizes for Meritorious Work in Literacy, the JURY has unanimously decided to award:

The International Reading Association Literacy Award to the Adult Literacy Organization of Zimbabwe (ALOZ), ZIMBABWE; for

(1) Mobilising a large number of people and organizations to work on a volunteer basis to meet the functional learning needs of illiterate and semi illiterate adults, particularly those living in the rural and commercial farming areas of Zimbabwe;

(2) Linking functional literacy to productive and income-generating activities and to diverse issues pertinent to the life conditions of the learners, such as AIDS awareness and home-based care for AIDS patients, environment, human rights, child abuse, gender issues, and the Constitution;

(3) Ensuring that all literacy interventions are conducted in local languages, examples of which are the development of literacy and post-literacy reading materials in local languages and English, and assessment of the learners’ achievement by using literacy tests in the local language and in English;

(4) Creating a closely controlled monitoring and follow-up mechanism;

(5) Seeking to recruit literacy instructors from the target groups and providing them with on-going training and counselling services;

(6) Seeking the field-based involvement of public sector officials and education experts in activities to train the target population groups in project management.

The Noma Literacy Prize 

the Bureau of Non-Formal Education: Accreditation and Equivalency (NFE A&E) System, PHILIPPINES; for

(1) Offering a pioneering non-formal alternative learning system to formal schooling, the design and elaboration of which has been a collaborative process over many years;

(2) Receiving official recognition and political commitment at the highest national level;

(3) Targeting out-of-school youth and adults and ensuring nationwide coverage, placing specific emphasis on the poorest and most hard-to-reach communities currently under-served by public services;

(4) Utilizing a Learning Support Delivery System, characterised by flexibility in terms of programme entry and including individual learning plans, self-paced study options, study circles, one-on-one tutorials, counselling, use of non-print instructional materials, self-assessment activities, pre and post test assessments;

(5) Creating an evaluation and monitoring system which includes the initial assessment phase, the creation of well defined indicators for functional literacy, the overview of test registration and administration and the processing and documentation of test results;

(6) Recognizing the importance of literacy within national development plans by promising counterpart support to loans given by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The King Sejong Literacy Prizes

to the "Juvenile Education" programme, REPUBLIC OF IRAQ; for

(1) Continuing along a path towards education for all, and particularly adult literacy, in spite of past and current difficulties resulting from the conflict situation;

(2) Focusing on learners in the 10-14 age group, which are currently under-served by the formal school system;

(3) Broadening its relationship with the International Community in the design and delivery of literacy programmes;

(4) Structuring the programme in a manner that allows learners to move on to further stages of learning.

and to the National Literacy and Basic Education Directorate of the REPUBLIC OF SENEGAL; for

(1) Recognizing the importance of the six national languages to the learning achievement of ethnic minority groups throughout the country and working with public sector bodies, educational planners and literacy instructors to sensitize them to the importance of national languages as part of the educational process;

(2) Undertaking efforts to transcribe Senegal’s six national languages and developing the following teaching/learning materials - practical orthographical guides, pedagogical guides for instructors, literacy primers and post literacy materials;

(3) Officially embracing the concept of "faire faire", in which the Government establishes contracts between the public sector and private sector education providers for the supply of educational services at the local level;

(4) Involving citizens engaged in a broad range of the country’s economic and productive activities, including farmers, fishermen, and businessmen in the non-formal economic sector, in literacy programmes through fostering partnerships with Civil Society.

The Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize

to the Quechua-Castellano Bilingual Literacy Project on Reproductive Health (with a focus on Gender and Inter-Cultural issues), REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA; for

(1) Creating a well-designed, Quechua-Castellano bilingual programme that recognizes the value and importance of the Quechua culture in different regions of Bolivia;

(2) Recognizing how the involvement of men in literacy classes is integral to community-wide awareness of the social and cultural problems facing the Quechua culture and overcoming cultural resistance to the participation of women;

(3) Employing a simple methodology that involves all members of the Quechua-speaking community in analysing problems and identfying solutions and integrates literacy with pertinent issues, such as reproductive health and hygiene;

(4) Reducing levels of poverty by matching the learning content to the productive lifestyle of the learners;

(5) Achieving high retention rates within a short time period;

(6) Developing a large quantity of diverse teaching/learning materials for dissemination to the Literacy Centres;

(7) Using a variety of instruments, such as CD Roms, radio programmes and cultural festivals to ensure the mobilisation of the target groups;

(8) Recognizing structural weaknesses, particularly in evaluation and monitoring mechanisms and undertaking to reform existing implementation strategies in order to improve programme efficiency;

(9) Working with a variety of partners, including various Government Ministries, NGOs and United Nations Agencies and development partners.


The Jury, conscious of the need to reward, make known and encourage the many individuals, projects and activities in the field of literacy which can serve as examples and sources of inspiration, has further unanimously decided to award honorable mentions of the International Reading Association Literacy Award, Noma Literacy Prize, King Sejong Literacy Prizes and Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize to the following institutions and organizations:

International Reading Association Literacy Award

to the Programme of Adult Literacy and Basic Education in Nicaragua (PAEBANIC), REPUBLIC OF NICARAGUA for (1) recognizing the linkages between poverty and illiteracy and between marginalization from the formal school system and both of these phenomena; (2) integrating basic education and adult literacy into the national poverty reduction strategy; (3) setting clearly defined goals for the target group of 15-24 year olds over a stated time-period and employing a participatory pedagogic approach which embraces literacy learners as vital actors in managing their own development; (4) reaching a large number of learners, over half of whom are women; (5) soliciting the support and participation of civil society to ensure the involvement of the entire human capital of the country; (6) continuously integrating the new pedagogical approaches of a wider range of educational actors into programme design and delivery; (6) seeking the support and guidance of international partners in the on-going process of raising literacy levels throughout the country.

Noma Literacy Prize

to the Education Project for Out-of-School Girl Workers in Rural Areas, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN for (1) encouraging out-of-school girls to sign up for literacy classes in a country where there has traditionally been cultural resistance to the education of girls and women; (2) forging a delivery mechanism that sees the teacher as facilitator and the girls as active participants; (3) developing literacy materials that are directly linked to life skills of the learners in a manner that contributes towards the improvement of their life conditions; (4) respecting the work and home commitments of the participants through flexible scheduling of literacy classes; (5) involving the learners in programme management.

King Sejong Literacy Prizes

to the Programa Alfabetiza¸ ± o Solid« ria (Literacy through Solidarity Programme), REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL for (1) elaborating a methodology that permits huge population coverage throughout the target regions; (2) recruiting literacy instructors from the local communities; (3) working towards sustainability and durability in programme delivery through soliciting funds from private sector enterprises and the communities themselves; (4) working with universities to facilitate the on-going development of the pedagogical approach, the training of literacy instructors and the maintenance of contact with the learning groups; (5) achieving impressive quantitative results, particularly low drop-rates, within a short time period; (6) building an alternative infrastructure for educational provision for youth and adults in the light of weaknesses in the existing formal schooling system.

and to Literacy Aotearoa Inc., NEW ZEALAND for (1) developing a literacy programme with nationwide coverage based on the principles of equality and justice for the Maori peoples; (2) guaranteeing that literacy services affirm and promote Maori knowledge and cultural values; (3) redressing the socio-economic disparities between the Maori and the remainder of the population by dealing directly with issues of bi- and multiculturalism and matching programme content to the student’s learning goals and life situations; (4) establishing a supportive learning environment by adopting "whanua" (family) style learning approach that builds upon the traditional Maori culture; (5) involving the Maori community representatives in the decision-making structures; (6) establishing an evaluation process which includes daily dialogue between the learners and their tutors, one-to-one conferencing and individual interviews with researchers; (7) creating a bilingual website in Maori and English.

Malcolm Adiseshiah International Literacy Prize

to the Education Bureau of Shizong County, Yunnan Province, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA for (1) recognizing the synergies and fundamental linkages between universal primary schooling and adult literacy and seeking to build bridges between them; (2) demonstrating positive governmental actions towards the social, economic and educational integration of ethnic minorities, particularly those living in remote villages; (3) providing functional literacy instruction to the target groups in their own languages and mobilising educated youth to achieve this goal; (4) recognizing the needs and contribution of women to literacy provision; (5) linking literacy, culture, science and technology to the productive dynamism of the local economy.

In view of the outcome of the World Education Forum, Dakar, April 2000, where special emphasis was placed on the quality of learning and equality of access to education, the JURY wishes to pay special tribute to those who work tirelessly with disadvantaged groups and communities, youths, women and girls, and children. In particular, THE JURY is pleased to note the growing emphasis among literacy workers on the use of multicultural and multilingual approaches.

THE JURY wishes to honour the innumerable women and men throughout the world who, day after day, often anonymously and under difficult conditions, serve the cause of literacy with perseverance and devotion. Lastly, and not the least, THE JURY wishes to draw attention to the contribution of donor agencies and non-governmental organizations, providing human, financial and material support towards the goal of literacy for all.

Members of THE JURY are:

  • Martha M. Mvungi (Chairperson)
  • Ran-soo Kim
  • Habib Mobarak
  • Geraldine Novelo
  • Thomas G. Sticht



"Literacy. Without it…words have no meaning.