© UNESCO/M. Mimi Kuo

Literacy and Lifelong Learning

“Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults” is the fifth goal of the Education for All (EFA) initiative. Literacy is essential for sustainable human development in today’s complex and fast-changing societies.

When 164 governments adopted the six Educations for All (EFA) goals in Dakar in 2000, they espoused a holistic vision of education, spanning from the first years of life through adulthood. Yet absence of quality education has lead to 771 million adults living without the basic learning tools in order to make informed decisions and participate fully in the development of their societies. Women form the vast majority of this group.

For UNESCO tackling the global literacy challenge is a moral and development imperative. UNESCO believes that the challenge of meeting the goals of Literacy can be met only if the political leadership at the highest level commits itself to action. Responding to the needs in the region, UNESCO supports Member States in the training of personnel, development of curriculum and teaching/learning materials to enhance the provision of education through non formal modes. Since 1990s, UNESCO has promoted community-based learning through the development of Community Learning Centres (CLCs) as effective local institutions outside the formal education systems. In villages and urban slum areas, these CLCs are usually established and managed by people from local communities. UNESCO has developed its Literacy Online-Database, which contains one hundred case studies of innovation in literacy policies across the world.

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