01.09.2017 - UNESCO Office in Harare

South Africa wins UNESCO International Literacy Prize

South Africa’s FunDza is among the five laureates to be awarded the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes on the occasion of International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8th September. This year’s Literacy Prizes and celebration will focus on literacy in a digital world.

The prize-giving ceremony will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France and will be part of the Organization’s global International Literacy Day celebrations, held in the context of the 2030 Education Agenda by which the international community has pledged to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.

This year’s event will bring together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies. This is particularly important considering that 750 million illiterate people around the world, 63% of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills. This population includes 102 million young people (aged 15-24), of whom 57% are female, according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

UNESCO Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova will host the International Literacy Prizes ceremony during which each laureate will present their programmes and receive a medal and a monetary award.

The three awards of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and rewarding work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women, will be given to FunDza (South Africa), AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia) and the Citizens Foundation (Pakistan).

FunDza will be awarded for its readers and writers project to develop a culture of reading and writing for pleasure through an online platform that provides reading courses and writing competitions as well as connecting readers and writers.

The two awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea, will be given to the Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada) and We Love Reading (Jordan).

Since 1967, UNESCO International Literacy Prizes have rewarded excellence and innovation in the field of literacy. Over 475 projects and programmes undertaken by governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world have been recognized. Through these prestigious Prizes, UNESCO seeks to support effective literacy practices and encourages the promotion of dynamic literate societies.

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. It is an occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter remaining challenges for the promotion of literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning within and beyond the 2030 Education Agenda. 

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