UNESCO participates in Forum on Educational Gaps and Illiteracy held in Chiapas

UNESCO representatives attended the inauguration ceremony of the Forum on Educational Gaps and Illiteracy held in Chiapas last Wednesday under the framework of citizen consultation within the 2013-2018 National Development Plan for Mexico.

The list of participants included Emilio Chuayffet Chemor, the Secretary of Public Education (SEP), who indicated that an effective educational process requires four principles: public will, community participation, coordination and continuity.  He also stated that literacy currently faces a severe problem of social injustice and said that, “there is no greater injustice than ignorance, since the people’s knowledge of how to read and right is an indispensable precondition for a modern society of rights".

Roundtable on Educational Gaps and Illiteracy
During the afternoon, a roundtable on “Educational Gaps and Illiteracy” was held in which specialists on the topic agreed that this problem has two dimensions. The first is the lack of learning – not knowing how to read and write; and the other is a result of the system itself, because it leads many people to interrupt their studies.

This second dimension is the consequence of multiple factors such as socioeconomic conditions, population growth, the increase in demand for health services, diet, among others that foster a differentiation between rural and urban sectors, producing inequality in people’s access to, permanence and continuity within the education system.

At present, 61 million elementary school-aged children are not in school, and this is added to another 71 million potential high school students. One of Mexico’s challenges in terms of education is to reduce functional illiteracy, which affects nearly 8 million Mexicans, and the 7.5 million people who do not know how to read or write.

UNESCO estimates that from now until 2015 it will take 1.7 million teachers around the world to reach a total of 793 million illiterates, of which 63% are women.

For this reason, the forum presenters have invited us to join forces in the recognition that we are all individuals with rights, and education is one fundamental right that the State must guarantee.

Among those that attended the forum are Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of Chiapas; Teresa Bracho González, from the El Colegio de México; Sergio Cárdenas Denham, professor and researcher at CIDE; Javier López Sánchez, head of the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI); Miguel Robles Bárcena, Secretary of Community Services at UNAM; and Hilda María Jiménez Acevedo, from the Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas (UACH).

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