Promoting Quality Literacy for All

Illiteracy is an issue that needs to be urgently tackled, as illiteracy deprives people of the ability to develop personally, and to lead productive and socially-oriented lives. Illiteracy widens and deepens vulnerabilities, inequalities, poverty, exclusion, and social tensions. Literacy and numeracy skills can make a huge difference in the lives of people who lack these basic skills.  With basic literacy and numeracy skills, adults would be able to further skills for work, as well as for their and their children’s social and economic wellbeing. This would strengthen the country with people who have the kind of skills that can drive economic development.

Thus UNESCO endeavors to promote literacy programmes to inclusively and equitably empower everyone to be able to sustainably develop themselves, prevent conflict and sustain peace. Basic and functional literacy programmes need to target the most deprived and impoverished, and relevantly address their needs in their respective local contexts. Accessibility to appropriate literacy practices and literate environments are crucial factors affecting people’s abilities to maintain literacy. Support needs to be provided to assist people in utilizing their gained functional literacy skills to acquire employment or develop sustainable enterprises. Community Learning Center as a venue of learning, set up and managed by the local community to provide literacy and various learning opportunities to develop the local people and improve the quality of their lives, need to be established and strengthened. In order to accelerate the literacy rate among ethnic and linguistic minorities/indigenous groups who have difficulty following the dominant language of instruction, the use of the mother tongue in learning literacy needs to be promoted. In a global world and labor market that is increasingly dependent on technology and knowledge-based economy, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) needs to be promoted to improve literacy as it can entice the interest of people to read digital texts, and enrich the learning experience. Support also needs to be provided to strengthen equivalency education programmes as an alternative learning/schooling programme for people who have been deprived of their right to education.

To be able to tackle the remaining number of illiterates, strong political commitment, innovative policies, resources, teacher training, and teaching-learning materials are needed to be able to provide all members of society with opportunities for lifelong learning. Through sharing of knowledge and good practices, developing capacities, and strengthening networks and partnerships, UNESCO will continue to support countries in addressing the remaining challenges in reaching the literacy and life skills EFA goals.

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