Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO strategy for youth and adult literacy (2020-2025)

The Member States adopted a new UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025) at UNESCO’s 40th General Conference in Paris.

This Strategy is a guiding framework for UNESCO’s work around the world for the promotion of youth and adult literacy in the coming six years.

Identified by the more than 80 Member States, key partners and literacy experts through consultations, the new literacy strategy has four strategic priority areas:

  1. Supporting Member States in developing national literacy policies and strategies;
  2. Addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged groups, particularly women and girls;
  3. Leveraging digital technologies to expand access and improve learning outcomes;
  4. Monitoring progress and assessing literacy skills and programmes.

The Strategy facilitates UNESCO’s targeted support to countries and populations that are facing the biggest literacy challenges in the world.

These include, but are not limited to, the 29 member countries of the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) that is coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. The Alliance consists of 20 countries with adult literacy rates below 50 percent, and the E9 countries, a consortium of the 9 most populous countries, which are home to over a half of the world’s population.

The Strategy aims to strengthen and encourage cooperation among these countries to share best practices of promoting literacy in a lifelong learning perspective.

The Strategy also focuses on gender equality and addresses the learning needs of marginalized peoples, including out-of-school youth, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples who are part of the 773 million adults around the world who lack basic literacy skills.

Aligned with the Sustainable Goal on Education 4 (SDG4) and Education 2030 Agenda, the Strategy aims to mobilize stronger political will and financial resources.  For the  29 GAL countries to achieve SDG4.6 on youth and adult literacy to the full extent, an estimated USD14 billion is required.    

UNESCO recognizes the importance of a three-pronged approach to literacy:

  1. Expanding quality education
  2. Providing alternative opportunities for out-of-school children, young people and adults
  3. Enriching literate environments

Focusing mainly on the second element, this new Strategy builds upon lessons learned from previous initiatives and strategies, notably the United National Literacy Decade (UNLD, 2003 – 2012) and the UNESCO Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE, 2006 – 2015), UNESCO’s former operational framework for realizing the visions and goals of UNLD.