UNESCO and Mrs. Laura Bush host roundtable on literacy and teacher trainingThe United States and UNESCO today hosted a roundtable discussion at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters focused on literacy and teacher training for educational practitioners who teach literacy outside of formal school settings.
Today's roundtable, entitled "Teacher Training and Literacy" highlighted the need for a greater supply of trained teachers in regions where an acute shortage is affecting efforts to promote literacy and meet the goals of the Education for All program by 2015. It was hosted by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States. Mrs. Bush is the Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade.
Other participants included teachers from the developing world, representatives from UNESCO delegations and UNESCO secretariat staff.
At the roundtable, Mrs. Bush stated: “Ending illiteracy is a challenge for every country. Yet investing in literacy and education helps governments to meet their fundamental obligations: improving opportunities for children and families, strengthening their economies, and keeping their citizens in good health.”
The Director-General stated: “(…) about one fifth of the world’s adults – an estimated 781 million – are deprived of literacy. An additional 77 million children do not go to school, and have no chance of acquiring basic literacy skills. This will seriously impede efforts to reach the Education for All goal of dramatically improving adult literacy levels.
“Progress is likewise hindered by a massive shortage of qualified teachers. An estimated 18 million more teachers must be trained worldwide by 2015 if we are to achieve universal primary education. […] it is clear that there must be a huge expansion in training for teachers who work with adults in non-formal contexts.”
Today's roundtable at UNESCO Headquarters served as a bridge between the first ever White House Conference on Global Literacy in September 2006, and the first of five follow-up UNESCO regional literacy conferences, which will be held in Qatar in March. That meeting will be followed by the Africa regional conference in Mali in September. Three other conferences are planned for Latin America (Costa Rica), Europe and Central Asia (Azerbaijan) and Asia (location to be determined).
The September conference included presenters from nine countries representing all regions of the world and highlighted successful literacy programs in the areas of intergenerational literacy, health literacy and literacy for economic self-sufficiency.