UNESCO International Literacy Prize Winners 2009

Rewarding excellence and innovation in literacy

Four innovative literacy projects in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, India, and the Philippines have won the awards of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes this year. A programme in Bhutan received an Honourable Mention.

The UNESCO International Literacy Prizes are awarded every year in recognition of excellence and innovation in literacy throughout the world. Complying with the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) thematic calendar, the theme for this year’s Prizes was “Literacy and Empowerment”.

The award ceremony will take place at UNESCO in Paris on the occasion of the celebration of International Literacy Day, 8 September 2009.

Each award is worth US $20,000, a medal and a diploma.


Tin Tua - Burkina Faso

Tin Tua

One of two awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, supported by the Republic of Korea, goes to Tin Tua’s Literacy Programme in eastern Burkina Faso. The NGO’s name means “let’s help ourselves develop” in the Gulimancema language. It has achieved excellent results by using participants’ primary language, producing reading material locally, and focusing on gender and sustainable community development. Read more

Nirantar - India

UNESCO/Andrew Wheeler

The second award of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize goes to Nirantar’s project “Khabar Lahariya” - “news waves” - in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. It has created a rural fortnightly newspaper entirely produced and marketed by "low caste" women, distributed to more than 20,000 newly literate readers. Its well-structured method of training newly literate women as journalists and democratizing information production provides an easily replicated model of transformative education. Read more.

SERVE - Afghanistan

UNESCO/Andrew Wheeler

One UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, supported by the People’s Republic of China, is awarded to the "Pashai Language Development Project" implemented by SERVE Afghanistan. The community-owned initiative provides meaningful literacy, livelihood, public health and nutrition education to about 1,000 Pashai ethnic minority men and women annually. Despite Afghanistan’s conflict situation, the project has managed to maintain its emphasis on education, especially for women and girls. Participants learn to use written material in their local language and in Pashto, one of the country’s two official languages. Read more.

Municipal Literacy Coordinating Council - Philippines

UNESCO/Andrew Wheeler

The second award of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy goes to the Municipal Literacy Coordinating Council, Municipality of Agoo, La Union, Philippines, for its Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning Programme, which makes available a vast array of education and training opportunities to the entire population, including the neediest. The municipal authority’s  leadership in coordinating activities is a key factor in eliminating illiteracy and sustaining lifelong learning in the area’s 49 villages. The Jury commended the project’s joint funding by the government, NGOs, the private sector and international donors as exemplary. Read more.

Non-Formal and Continuing Education Programme - Bhutan

UNESCO/Andrew Wheeler

The Honourable Mention of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy is awarded to the Non-Formal and Continuing Education Programme of the Ministry of Education of Bhutan, for its holistic approach to literacy and its success in reaching remote areas. The Jury welcomed the programme’s emphasis on literacy as an integral part of the country’s “Gross National Happiness”, as well as its focus on adults and out-of-school youth, particularly women and girls. Read more

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