15.09.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

International Literacy Day 2017 Celebrations in Eastern Africa

(c)UNESCO Dar es Salaam Training in the Internet School

UNESCO celebrated International Literacy Day in Eastern Africa, with activities in Rwanda, South Sudan, and highlighting the success of literacy, skills and ICT projects in Tanzania. The theme for this year was "Literacy in a Digital World"

UNESCO in Eastern Africa celebrated 8 September, International Literacy Day (ILD), themed this year “Literacy in a digital world” with various activities in Rwanda and South Sudan, as well as highlighting the success of literacy, skills and ICT projects implemented in Tanzania.

Fifty-one years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as a tool to empower individuals, communities and societies, to be leaders of change and voices of the future. A literate society is a society that is able to face the challenges of our century, as well as make informed decisions about the future.

UNESCO is coordinating the support to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to achieve inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Literacy for all is a priority and at the core of our work on education, but also contributing to other SDGs such as on improving health and reducing poverty. The theme of this year explored what literacy means in a digital world and how to consciously use technology to improve lives.

Since 2012, to foster a culture of reading among children and adults, the Ministry of Education of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Education Board, and in cooperation with development partners, is celebrating yearly the Rwanda Reads. UNESCO continued to support and participate in the year´s celebration through a panel on Literacy in a Digital World, discussing the important role for digital literacy and its increasing role for Rwanda and elsewhere. Rwanda Reads provided an opportunity for networking and sharing about literacy and thus strengthening a culture of reading in Rwanda.The event was celebrated through various testimonies of children, young people and adults explaining how learning to read made a difference in their lives.

In South Sudan, an event was organized by the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, with support of UNESCO, UNICEF and other development partners in Bor, Jonglei, in the presence of the Minister of General Education and Instruction. The event provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss literacy and education issues in the country. The discussions revolved around gender equality in education, the need to decrease school dropout rates and the need to increase retention of girls in school by setting up temporary learning centers, using technologies and learning campaigns. Moreover, the government outlined the steps it is undertaking to improve the education and literacy situation in the country, including the development of a General Education Policy, unified curriculum and General Education Sector Plan. Furthermore, the government of South Sudan provided more details on its intention to construct an additional 300 schools in the next three years to create more learning spaces for children.

In Tanzania, the official message of the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, on the occasion of the ILD, was disseminated into Kiswahili, to show multicultural understanding, education, knowledge and literacy through a multicultural world of languages. In Tanzania, UNESCO supports the implementation of the Digital Village project in Ngorongoro district where an internet school has been launched in collaboration with Samsung electronics East Africa. Thanks to the ICT based bilingual adult literacy programme, targeting the 70 % adult illiteracy in district villages, 1000 people of all ages have been trained on basic ICT skills.

As a special global occasion, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) released a new fact sheet and an updated edition of its UNESCO eAtlas of Literacy, presenting the latest data. While literacy rates continue to rise from one generation to the next, there are still 750 million illiterate adults, two-thirds of whom are women. These numbers are a reminder of the work ahead to meet SDGs 4 and 5 and the Education 2030 Targets.

Together we have celebrated International Literacy Day, marking achievements of this year 2017 in Eastern Africa and reflecting 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.

More information in International Literacy Day celebrated around the world, here.

To read the official message of UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, on the occasion of International Literacy Day, in Kiswahili, click here.

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