United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America and Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade, paid her second visit to UNESCO

On the occasion of the roundtable organized on Monday 15 January 2007 at UNESCOís Paris Headquarters focused on literacy and teacher training for educational practitioners who teach literacy outside of formal school settings, Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America and Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade, paid her second visit to UNESCO.

In September 2003, Mrs. Bush addressed the opening of the 32nd Session of UNESCOís General Conference, marking the return of the United States to the Organization after a 19-year absence.

Before the roundtable, Mr. Matsuura and Mrs. Bush held a meeting in the presence of Ms. Louise Oliver, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the United States of America to UNESCO, during which they discussed the growing cooperation between UNESCO and the United States in all areas of the Organizationís activities, including the follow-up to the White House Conference on Global Literacy which took place in New York in September 2006. Sharing the Director-Generalís perception, Mrs. Bush expressed her particular appreciation for UNESCOís cooperation in the preparation of this important meeting and its follow-up.

Mr. Matsuura stressed that literacy is no less important than the other two EFA goals of universal primary education and gender equality in education, yet because it has not become a millennium development goal it tends to receive much less attention. In this regard, he said that the White House Conference was crucial for UNESCO, reminding the world of the strategic importance of literacy to sustainable development, the empowerment of women and girls, improvements in health and other major international development objectives.

Mr. Matsuura went on to inform Mrs. Bush of the progress in planning for a series of UNESCO regional literacy conferences. The first of these is to be held in Qatar in March, being followed by the Africa regional conference in Mali in September. Three other conferences are planned in 2008 for Latin America and the Caribbean (Costa Rica), Europe and Central Asia (Azerbaijan) and Asia (location to be determined).

During the roundtable, Mr. Matsuura signalled the importance of literacy and teaching training to international efforts to achieve Education for All. He highlighted that UNESCO has recently launched two major initiatives in these areas: the Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA), a ten-year project aimed at supporting African countries in developing effective policies to increase the quantity and quality of their teaching force; and the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), which focuses on helping the 35 countries that face the greatest literacy challenges to build the capacity they need to raise literacy levels.

Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info Nį 004-2007 -  Publication Date: 18-01-2007

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