Literacy programmes in Bangladesh, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, India and Namibia are the winners of UNESCO’s literacy prizes for 2013. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, announced the laureates today, following the recommendation of an international jury. They will receive their awards at UNESCO Headquarters on 9 September, as part of the celebrations for International Literacy Day on 8 September.
There are five awards in total: two under the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize created in 1989 by the Government of the Republic of Korea, and three under the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, created in 2005 by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Each of the five winners will receive $ 20,000, a diploma and a medal.
The National Literacy Mission Authority of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India will receive one of the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes. The Saakshar Bharat (Literate India) Mission addresses problems of access, equity and quality in adult literacy and works with out-of-school youth, women and girls, minority groups and indigenous people. The programme functions in 25 Indian states, working in 26 languages and reaches 10 million Indians annually. Mission activities include basic education, vocational education, functional literacy and women’s equality.
The second UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize is awarded to the programme Mother Tongue Literacy in the Guera Region of Chad implemented by the Federation of Associations for the Promotion of Guera Languages. The Federation was founded in 2001 to develop the 26 languages of the region of Guera, promote language education, provide training and create income-generating activities. The programme was selected for its focus on development and standardization of the Guera languages, allowing learners to become literate in their mother tongues. In the 2012-13 campaign, 13 languages were being taught in 143 adult literacy centres with 6,577 learners enrolled of whom 5,356 were women.
The Directorate of Adult Education of the Ministry of Education of Namibia will be awarded one of the three UNESCO Confucius Literacy Prizes. This governmental programme, available in 13 regions of Namibia, provides learning opportunities for out-of-school youth, illiterate and disadvantaged women and men. Learning is brought closer to communities through local development initiatives and learning centres. The programme also reaches out to learners in the workplace and those with special needs. Since its inception, more than 600,000 people have participated in the programme.
The second UNESCO Confucius Literacy Prize is awarded to the Dhaka Ahsania Mission in Bangladesh. This NGO focuses on development work, concentrating initially on education and human development, and subsequently diversifying to address health, work skills, human rights and social justice. The Mission’s “Ganokendra” (People’s Centre) Programme concentrates on work-skills training for rural adults and out-of-school youth, especially women and girls. Since 1992, more than 4.000 Ganokendras have been established throughout the country and more than six million participants have been involved in the programme.
The third UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy will be awarded to the organisation ‘Savoir Pour Mieux Vivre’ (Knowledge for Living Better) in Côte d’Ivoire. This NGO, established in 2006, aims to save the languages that provide access to Ivoirian culture. Literacy programmes focus on urban and rural development, gender, information and communication technology (ICT) and sustainable development in a multilingual context. It promotes literacy by encouraging the creation of literate environments in French, national and local languages. The programme “J’apprends ta langue, tu apprends ma langue, nous nous comprenons, demain nous appartient” (“I learn your language, you learn my language, we understand each other, tomorrow belongs to us”) is recognized for its strong advocacy to raise public awareness and its commitment in favour of the use, development and enhancement of local languages and cultures.
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