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Literacy: still denied to 1/5 of the world's adults

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  • Don Osborn
    FYI. Note, among other things, mention of maternal language literacy and transition to languages of wider communication (LWCs - note, the release does not
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 2005
      FYI. Note, among other things, mention of maternal language literacy
      and "transition" to languages of wider communication (LWCs - note, the
      release does not use this term, which I add for search purposes),
      which implies some sort of multilingual literacy. (This UNESCO release
      copied from the OneWorld site at
      http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/121934/1/ )... DZO

      Literacy: a right still denied to nearly one fifth of the world's
      adult population
      UNESCO Press Release
      09 November 2005

      `Government and donor countries are curtailing progress towards
      Education for ALL ( EFA) – and broader poverty reduction - by
      according only marginal attention to the 771 million adults living
      without basis literacy skills,' says the fourth edition of the EFA
      Global Monitoring report, Literacy for Life'.

      `The powerful links that exist between adult literacy and better
      health, higher income, more active citizenship and children's
      education should act as strong incentives for governments and donors
      to be much more proactive in addressing the literacy deficit,' says
      UNESCO's Director-General Koichiro Matsuura at the launch of the
      report in New Delhi on November 9, 2005.

      According to the report, three quarters of the worlds adult
      illiterates live in 12 countries.

      South and West Asia has the lowest adult literacy rate in this region
      (58.6%), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%), and the Arab states
      (62.7%). Countries with the lowest adult literacy rates in the world
      are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4) and Mali (19%).

      Reflecting deep seated gender inequalities in many societies, women
      account for 64% of the adults worldwide who cannot read or write with
      understanding. This figure is virtually unchanged from 63% in 1990.

      Among the 163 countries for which data was available in 2002, 47 have
      achieved Universal Primary Education (UPE). Projections show that only
      twenty additional countries are likely to achieve UPE by 2015.

      The relative neglect of adult literacy programmes stems from the
      global drive to expand universal primary education. There is a
      widespread belief that investing in primary-level education is more
      cost effective. Recent studies, however, find that the cost of
      educating an adult is on par with that of a primary school child
      (US$50), and that such spending has a positive effect on individual
      earnings and economic growth.

      The report calls for dramatic scaling of youth and adult literacy
      programmes, requiring more domestic resources and improved status of
      literacy educators. It also points out that programmes that provide
      initial learning in the mother tongue are pedagogically sound but must
      allow for a transition to more widely used regional or national languages.

      According to a survey conducted by the report, while there is
      increased backing for the UPE, literacy is not high on the agenda of
      bilateral donors. However, accelerating progress towards Education for
      All needs the commitment and backing of national and international

      Bilateral aid to basic education almost trebled between 1998 and 2003,
      but still accounts for less than 2% of the total Official Development
      Assistance (ODA). Overall, nearly 60% of bilateral commitments for
      education are still for the post-secondary levels, and this doubles
      the allocations for basic education.

      Assuming that the share of funding that goes to basic education
      remains constant, the increased overall aid flows pledged at the G8
      Summit in Gleneagles in July 2005 could by 2010 result in an annual
      total of only US$ 3.3 billion for basic education, still far short of
      the $7 billion estimated necessary to achieve the UPE and the gender
      goals alone.

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