Winners of the 2004 UNESCO Literacy PrizesUNESCO’s 2004 international literacy prizes have been awarded to programmes in Mauritius, Brazil and China. The laureates of the International Reading Association Literacy Award and the two King Sejong Literacy Prizes were selected by a jury that met at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from May 10 to 14.
These UNESCO prizes are awarded in recognition of particularly effective contributions to the fight against illiteracy, one of UNESCO’s priorities. They call attention to the efforts of thousands of men and women who devote themselves year after year to advancing the cause of literacy for all. This year, the jury focused particularly on candidates whose work promoted gender equality, in accordance with the theme assigned by the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) of which UNESCO is the lead agency.
The three winners were chosen from 28 candidates. They will receive their prizes in their own countries on International Literacy Day, next September 8.
The International Reading Association Literacy Award* goes to L’Edikasyon pu travayer, a non-governmental organization in Mauritius, chosen by the jury for its adult literacy programme, which places the emphasis on women, its respect for cultural context and use of mother languages. The organization has also produced, printed and distributed books – including the first Mauritian Creole dictionary – and reading materials covering every aspect of learners’ lives.
The two King Sejong Literacy Prizes** have been awarded to Alfabetização Solidária (AlfaSol, Brazil) and the Steering Group of Literacy Education in Qinghai Province (China).
AlfaSol is honoured for launching a literacy programme aimed at four million illiterate adults, and based on an innovative, simple and cost-effective model. The programme covers both urban and rural populations, encourages the participation of women and reaches the poorest and most isolated people. AlfaSol succeeded in mobilizing a large number of citizens, contributing to the sense of local ownership of the programme and creating a large group of educators within the country. The model has been successfully exported to other countries and a system of student exchange set up between regions.
The Steering Group of Literacy Education in Qinghai Province responded to the needs of a large and geographically isolated population, concentrating its efforts on women and various ethnic minorities. It created a methodology combining literacy with skills training geared to the needs of farmers and herdsmen and taking into account their daily routines. Post-literacy is being provided by making libraries, reading rooms and educational resources of schools accessible to farmers and parents. A number of partnerships have also been established.
The jury reminded future candidates of the need to concentrate activities on literacy for women and the development of innovative, participatory contents and methods, and stressed the importance of quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation.
* The US $15,000 International Reading Association Literacy Award was founded in 1979 thanks to the International Reading Association.
** The two US $15,000 King Sejong Literacy Prizes were created in 1989 through the generosity of the government of the Republic of Korea.