» UNESCO literacy prize-winners visit China and the Republic of Korea - the countries supporting their awards
07.10.2016 - Education Sector

UNESCO literacy prize-winners visit China and the Republic of Korea - the countries supporting their awards


Winners of the two prestigious UNESCO literacy prizes for 2016 have undertaken a fascinating study tour at the invitation of China and the Republic of Korea, the two countries who helped establish the prizes.

This year on International Literacy Day, September 8, 2016, , UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova awarded five innovative and impactful literacy projects from India, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Viet Nam with the two literacy prizes: the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize and the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy.

The winners were then invited on study tours to the two countries. From 26-28 September the  UNESCO Confucius Prize winners were able to discover the rich history and culture of Qufu, China, hometown of the renowned Chinese scholar and philosopher Confucius.

From 6 – 10 October 2016, it was the turn of the Korean Government to invite the UNESCO King Sejong winners to visit Seoul timed to coincide with celebrations of Hangul Week, which commemorates the creation of the Korean alphabet by King Sejong. This year celebrates the 570th Hangul Day also known as Korean Alphabet Day. The two winners from Vietnam and Thailand enjoyed first-hand the celebrations and learned much about literacy education in the Republic of Korea.

Ms Suwilai Premsrirat, literacy prize winner from Thailand and head of the awarded Patani Malay-Thai Bi/Multilingual Education Project  said: “King Sejong revised the writing system for the Korean people so that they were able to learn easily and become literate. This study trip is very important to me since we are also developing the writing system for our minority groups at home in Thailand and therefore in a way I am following in the footsteps of King Sejong.”

Bringing the enthusiasm back home

The study tours take place each year following the awarding of the prizes and are designed to help the winners take pride in their language education programmes and inspire them to undertake future literacy education activities.

“I will especially bring back home with me the enthusiasm of the people who are celebrating Hangul Day. This kind of enthusiasm is very important”, Ms Suwilai Premsrirat said.

Literacy prize-winner from Vietnam, Mr Nguyen Quang Thach, who received the award for the programme Books for rural areas of Vietnam said: ”This is very meaningful to me. After this study tour I will write an article about the development of the country and encourage Vietnamese people to learn more about Korean people and their history. The Republic of Korea people seem to know how to build on the learnings from King Sejong. In my work at home, I also want to improve the knowledge of Vietnamese people and maybe in the future leave my footprints like King Sejong.”

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy awards projects aimed at people in rural areas and out-of-school youth, with a special focus on girls and women. The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize gives special consideration to the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training.

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