UNESCO’s 2011 Literacy Prizewinners: Working for peace and gender equality
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today announced the six winners of the Organization’s International Literacy Prizes for 2011, a selection made on the recommendation of an international jury, which met between 4 and 8 July in Paris.
The theme of this year’s prizes is literacy and peace, with special consideration to gender equality. Prizewinners include programmes in Burundi, Mexico, the United States of America, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with honourable mentions to programmes in Pakistan and the Philippines. The prizes will be awarded at an official ceremony on 8 September during International Literacy Day celebrations in New Delhi, India.
There are four awards in total: Two under the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize and two under the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy. The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was created in 1989 by the Government of the Republic of Korea. The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was created in 2005 by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Each of the four winners will receive $20,000 USD. Two honourable mentions are also awarded with each prize.
One of two awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize goes to the National Literacy Service of Burundi. This national literacy programme is recognized for its innovative approach to linking functional literacy to daily life issues and to topics related to peace and tolerance, as well as for its overall impact. From 2010 to 2011 alone, the Service presented more than 50,000 certificates to new readers.
The other award of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize goes to the National Institute for the Education of Adults of Mexico, for its Bilingual Literacy for Life programme. This programme is recognized for its impact in reducing the rate of illiteracy among indigenous populations, especially women, and for improving indigenous people’s ability to exercise their rights. It provides a strong example to other multicultural and multilingual communities and countries that strive to improve social cohesion.
One of two awards of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy goes to the U.S.-based Room to Read for its effective programme, Promoting Gender Equality and Literacy through Local Language Publishing. Operating in nine countries — Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam and Zambia — the programme has assisted communities in the development of culturally relevant reading materials in local and minority languages. It has produced more than 500 new titles in 25 languages, of which more than 5 million copies have been distributed.
The other award of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy goes to Collectif Alpha Ujuvi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for its programme, Peaceful Coexistence of Communities and Good Governance in North Kivu. The programme uses an innovative model for preventing and resolving tensions and conflicts among individuals and communities through developing literacy as a means to building better social cohesion and improved governance mechanisms.
Finally, the jury decided to award the Honourable Mention of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy to Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik, Secretary, Government of the Punjab, Pakistan. He is recognized for his leadership role in the implementation of the Adult Education and Vocational Skills programme, which aims at “Making Punjab literate by 2020”. The Honourable Mention of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize goes to the City Literacy Coordinating Council, Tagum City, the Philippines, for its Peace Management Literacy and Continuing Education through Night Market programme. The programme uses peace education activities, literacy teaching and business entrepreneurship to generate employment opportunities for marginalized populations. One of its main goals is to sustain a peaceful urban environment.
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