UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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Recommendation No. 77 to Ministries of Education on the Struggle Against Illiteracy

The 42nd Session of the International Conference on Education was held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1990. Part III of the Conference's Final Report, entitled 'Recommendation No. 77 to Ministries of Education on the struggle against illiteracy: operational policies, strategies and programmes for the 1990s', highlights some of the concerns regarding education in a multilingual environment.


10. An effective policy for the elimination of disparities between men's and women's literacy rate and between boys' and girls' access to primary schooling should be formulated, with time-bound targets and in co-operation, inter alia, with women's organizations.

11. Decisions of the same kind should be taken concerning other specific groups such as urban slum-dwellers, the rural poor cultural and linguistic minorities and the handicapped

12. In multilingual situations, the policy regarding the language of literacy should be carefully formulated, especially where the national or official language is different from local languages. Use of the mother tongue is desirable. However, in some situations bilingual literacy should be encouraged.

29. Awareness-raising campaigns and existing facilities in all industrialized and developing countries should be substantially expanded to meet the basic learning needs of all adults. A systematic, research-based investigation of the question should seek to identify groups and individuals with inadequate schooling, including migrant workers and their families, whose linguistic and cultural identity should be respected, to determine the numbers involved and establish reliable statistical data.

The nature and scope of the basic learning needs of these different groups and individuals should also be identified in relation to cumulative factors such as unemployment, poverty, social marginalization, etc. Changing employment patterns demographic trends and evolving technology make these needs recurrent, generating a continuing demand for basic learning skills in the form of flexible and abiding educational services that call for a long-term commitment on the part of the authorities, in both industrialized and developing countries.

32. Industrialized and developing countries should share their experience concerning common concerns with respect to the development of appropriate programmes to meet the needs of their populations concerns relating to language of instruction, highly dispersed populations, regions of extreme poverty, the diversity of groups with literacy needs, etc.

Note: The full text of the Final Report of the 42nd Session of the International Conference on Education is available at http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/REC_77_E.PDF

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