UNESCO 2001 International Literacy Day
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Ten years after the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, nations are just coming to terms with the need to create a literate society. Too much is at stake for them not to. At the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, countries finally realized that, at the heart of Education for All, inevitably lies Literacy for All. Creating a literate and learning society must be seen as an inevitable prerequisite to Education for All. The United Nations General Assembly will consider later this year a proposal to proclaim a United Nations literacy decade.

Yet, illiteracy is hardly felt outside the illiterate population. How many of us know what it is like to be an adult and illiterate in one's own language? How many of us know an adult illiterate, for that matter? It is hard for most of us to imagine the humiliation, the frustration and the rage that illiterate people have to live with day after day. To rally public support for literacy is to make the plight of the illiterate and their children known -to unveil the mystery surrounding it, to share the experience, raise the issues, discuss the trends and face the challenges.

In this document, we learn how UNESCO's latest efforts at promoting post-literacy help alert the most vulnerable group -women and girls- to the danger of HIV/AIDS in the southern African region where the infection rate is the highest in the world. We will also catch a glimpse of how the small kingdom of Bhutan struggles to educate its people between the thin line of national integrity and modernity. The story from Brazil tells of a young father who took it upon himself to start teaching his children to read and write in their own language, Terena, and how that has enhanced their schooling in the second language. The experience of a Salvadorean non-governmental organization worker shows how vision and commitment to literacy could make a world of improvement in people's self-reliance and self-respect. Modern information technology in promoting awareness of literacy in Germany is demonstrated. The Haitian programme shows how a literacy programme which combines civics, health, environment and livelihood could benefit learners on the margin of society. From Tamil Nadu in India, innovative use of bicycles in literacy programmes triggered a whole gamut of positive changes empowering women and their communities. The Israeli example shows how a specially designed literacy programme integrates Ethiopian immigrants into the mainstream society. By catering to the unique needs of the Maori people by involving them at all levels, New Zealand has boosted the number of learners. We will also read about how the sleepy island of Rodrigues (Mauritius) mobilized young people to teach others who could not attend school.

Pertinent issues in literacy emerge: mother tongue and second language literacy and its intertwining with people's cultural identity, literacy as a guiding ideology for people's empowerment, reaching well beyond the 3R's , volunteerism and professionalism in literacy. These are only some of the facets of literacy work. They are living proof that literacy today is as complex and complicated as the world it must serve. Creating a literate and learning world is an ambitious but necessary task if Education for All is to become a reality. The world needs, more than ever before, to understand literacy and its implications, to take action and to help people face the various new challenges -their own and their nations'.

Literacy and HIV/AIDS: Tackling the Taboo in Africa A Deceptive Idyll Challenging Tradition in Bhutan Schooling in the Mother Tongue, Brazil The Meaning of Literacy in El Salvador Preventive Illiteracy and Promoting Literacy in Germany Community Commitment in Haiti Illiteracy in India - Targeting Women in Tamil Nadu Integrating Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel Reaching out to Rodrigues - Literacy Programmes in Mauritius Addressing the Needs of Maori in New Zealand

Literacy and HIV/AIDS: Tackling the Taboo in Africa

A Deceptive Idyll Challenging Tradition in Bhutan

Schooling in the Mother Tongue, Brazil

The Meaning of Literacy in El Salvador

Preventive Illiteracy and Promoting Literacy in Germany

Community Commitment in Haiti

Illiteracy in India - Targeting Women in Tamil Nadu

Integrating Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel

Reaching out to Rodrigues - Literacy Programmes in Mauritius

Addressing the Needs of Maori in New Zealand

Living Literacy (Brochure in PDF)

2001 - UNESCO - Contact