UNESCO International Literacy Prizes


© Dhaka Ahsania Mission

Since 1967, UNESCO International Literacy Prizes have rewarded excellence and innovation in the field of literacy. Over 475 projects and programmes undertaken by governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world have been recognized. Through these prestigious Prizes, UNESCO seeks to support effective literacy practices and encourages the promotion of dynamic literate societies.

Currently there are two UNESCO International Literacy Prizes:

  • The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize (2 awards)

Established in 1989, with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea. It gives special consideration to the development and use of mother-tongue literacy education and training.

  • The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy (3 awards)

the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, established in 2005, with the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. It gives special consideration to literacy amongst adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women.

Each of the five prizewinners receives a medal, a diploma and US$20.000.

The UNESCO International Literacy Prizes are awarded in an official ceremony on the occasion of the International Literacy Day (8 September).

2016 Laureates

The winners of UNESCO International Literacy Prizes were announced by the Director-General of UNESCO on 31 August 2016, following the recommendations of an international jury.

The King Sejong Literacy Prize was awarded to:

  • the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development’s programme “Books for rural areas of Viet Nam’
  • the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia of the Mahidol University in Thailand for its programme ‘Patani Malay-Thai Bi/Multilingual Education Project.’

The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was awarded to:

  • the South African Department of Basic Education’s ‘Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign’
  • the Jan Shikshan Sansthan organization in Kerala, India for its programme, Vocational and Skill Development for Sustainable Development
  • the Directorate of Literacy and National Languages in Senegal for its ‘National Education Programme for Illiterate Youth and Adults through ICTs

The awards will be presented by the Director-General in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 8 September on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day.

Interview with the five 2016 laureates

 Literacy prize-winner starts library revolution in rural Viet Nam


 An alternative to conflict in Thailand through bilingual literacy and education


 Volunteers give a second chance to older literacy learners in South Africa


 A literacy prize recognizing the needs of rural poor in India


 Literacy prize recognizes hard won achievements of women in Senegal



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

UNESCO honours lives changed by literacy with 2016 International Literacy Prizes

2016 International Literacy Prizes award ceremony marks 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day

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