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