Director-General awards 2008 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

Director-General awards 2008 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes
  • © UNESCO/D. Bijeljac

On Monday 8 September, International Literacy Day, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, awarded the 2008 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes at a ceremony organized at the Organization’s Headquarters in Paris.

“Every year, on International Literacy Day, we highlight the status of literacy and adult learning globally. […] This important day is also the opportunity to celebrate what works and what makes a difference”, Mr Matsuura said. The Director-General explained that International Literacy Day placed a special focus on the relationship between literacy and health, the theme for the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade. “Literacy is a powerful yet often overlooked remedy to health threats. It has the potential to promote better nutrition and improve prevention and access to treatment”, Mr Matsuura argued.

Through the 2008 call for nominations to the Literacy Prizes, UNESCO had actively sought innovative practices that document positive synergies between the development and use of literacy skills and epidemics. Introducing the four prize-winners and two honourable mentions, the Director-General said that they demonstrated “that when health is at stake, literacy has a major role to play. They also show that good literacy practices can serve as inspiring models for adaptation and replication in other contexts”.

The prize-winners were: the Curitiba City Council’s programme Alfabetizando com saúde from Brazil (UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Prize); the People’s Action Forum programme Reflect and HIV/AIDS from Zambia (UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize); the Kwanibela Project run by the South African organization Operation Upgrade (UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy); and the Adult and Non-Formal Education Association in Ethiopia Literacy Plus programme (UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy). Honourable mentions went to: the Association Intégration programme, Reading Access for the Visually Impaired in Marrakech, Morocco, (Honourable Mention of the UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Prize); and the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Reading and Writing Programme, (Honourable Mention of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize).

The Director-General also paid tribute to the sponsors of the Prizes: the International Reading Association, which has been sponsoring the UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Prize since 1979; the Government of the Republic of Korea for the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize established in 1989; and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the most recent Literacy Prizes, established in 2005, in honour of the great Chinese scholar Confucius. Mr Matsuura expressed his gratitude to the sponsors for “enabling the celebration every year of outstanding literacy practices”.

“I will consider it a real accomplishment if this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes succeed in raising the profile of these excellent programmes and thereby increase awareness of literacy’s pivotal role in promoting better health and more broadly human development, which is the ultimate goal of International Literacy Day”, Mr Matsuura said.

As part of the celebrations of International Literacy Day 2008, a Round Table was also held on Literacy and Health, with the participation of: the international AIDS activist, Father Michael Kelly; UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibe; WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV and AIDS, TB, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr Hiroki Nakatani; and the Director of Pakistan's Children's Global Network, Ms Mehnaz Akbar Aziz.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 112-2008
  • 09-09-2008
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