International Literacy Day 8 September 2010

UNESCO launches new Knowledge and Innovations Network for Literacy (KINL)

UNESCO is launching a new Knowledge and Innovations Network for Literacy (KINL) that will enable researchers and practitioners all over the world to link up and share information and best practices. The network’s launch will be a highlight of International Literacy Day celebrations* on 8 September at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The annual 2010 International Literacy Prize awards ceremony and a round table on Literacy and Women’s Empowerment are the other main events of the Day. In addition, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova will be in New York to give a keynote address at the international conference “Literacy: an essential foundation for development” at the United Nations. The opening address will be given by former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, who is Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade (UNLD).

“Literacy and women’s empowerment” is the theme of International Literacy Day 2010, in line with the UNLD thematic calendar. While women’s empowerment is at the core of the global development agenda, girls still account for more than half of the 67.4 million out-of-school children in the world, and two-thirds of the 796 million adult illiterates are female.

Ms Bokova stressed in her message for the Day, “Investing in women’s literacy carries very high returns: it improves livelihoods, leads to better child and maternal health, and favours girls’ access to education. In short newly literate women have a positive ripple effect on all development indicators. This international day aims to mobilize everyone’s attention to the urgent need for increased commitment to literacy, especially for girls and women.”

On 8 September at Organization Headquarters in Paris, the award ceremony for UNESCO’s 2010 International Literacy Prizes, which recognize innovative approaches to literacy education, will be held from 9.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Room IV. The two awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, supported by the Republic of Korea, have been attributed to projects in Cape Verde and Germany. Programmes in Nepal and Egypt are receiving the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, supported by the People’s Republic of China. The Honourable Mention of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize goes to a project in Colombia and the Honourable Mention of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy to one in Malawi.

The awards ceremony will be followed by the launch of the Knowledge and Innovations Network for Literacy (KINL) (11 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., Room IV). Created with support from Verizon Foundation and Microsoft, the Network is a virtual workplace where literacy researchers and practitioners can link up, share knowledge and debate literacy topics on line. The network will generate knowledge and innovation in support of the acquisition and use of literacy, and promote advocacy, policy formulation and programme delivery, as well as cooperation and partnerships. It will be operational beginning 1 November 2010. Participating in the launch will be UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Cheick Modibo Diarra, who is Microsoft Corporation’s Chairman for Africa and Literacy Champion; and Marc Gosselin, representative of Verizon Foundation.

“Promoting literacy requires action from both the public and private sectors; we are all stakeholders in the fight to eradicate illiteracy,” said Dr. Diarra about KINL. “Microsoft shares UNESCO’s belief that technology can play an important role in doing so by providing access to education solutions and curriculum for both basic and digital literacy and helping more people participate in the global information society.”

Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston said, “If we are to create a seismic shift in the literacy landscape, education and literacy leaders from around the world must be able to communicate with one another and collaborate. The Knowledge and Innovations Network for Literacy will provide literacy leaders from every nation with easy access to the resources needed to ensure that every child is literate. The Verizon Foundation is proud to partner with UNESCO on this transformational project.”

After the launch, the International Literacy Day Roundtable on Literacy and Women’s Empowerment (11.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Room IV) will be chaired by Qian Tang, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education. It will include presentations by Cheick Modibo Diarra and Khunying Kasama Varavarn (Thailand), recipient of a UNESCO medal for life-time contribution to literacy and non-formal education; and Raafat Radwan, First Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Education and Director-Manager of the General Authority for Adult Literacy. Finally, the Literacy in Action roundtable (3 to 4.30 p.m., Room IV) will bring together the 2010 Winners of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize and the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy to present their programmes, followed by discussion.

At the same time, UNESCO’s offices around the world will be organizing a variety of events to mark International Literacy Day. (from their website)

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