Literacy: The Keys of Success. (from the United Nations)

By Bayer, Eileen; Staley, Lynn | Childhood Education, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview
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Literacy: The Keys of Success. (from the United Nations)


Bayer, Eileen, Staley, Lynn, Childhood Education


The United Nations Committee on Teaching About the UN (CTAUN) recently held an international conference titled, "Literacy Now: Building an Educated World." One of your UN representatives attended the conference, as both CTAUN and ACEI share a mission to equip and empower educators to effectively integrate global issues about children and families into the curriculum. The ability to read may well be the most effective tool for eradicating poverty and sustaining the healthy development of children and families in any country. With over 113 million children worldwide not attending school, however, the issue of literacy is certainly a global one.

Thorava Obaid of the UN Population Fund emphatically stated, "Education is the most important factor for a productive society."

Lesley Morrow, President-elect of the International Reading Association, re-emphasized the theme of the conference by highlighting the importance of children's emerging literacy in the early years. She also called for increased attention to quality teacher education worldwide. Morrow suggested that schools consider a stronger mentoring program for all first-year teachers.

Jones Kyozzi, Director of UNESCO, linked education, advocacy, and literacy as the keys for helping many children rise out of the life-threatening situations in which they live. Our attention must be focused on all children, including girls, as we close the international gender gap.

Elaine Furniss, Senior Advisor for the Education and Program Division of UNICEF, highlighted the Millennium Goals for all nations. Despite the cultural roots of gender inequality in education, the world community must continually remind all nations of their commitment to provide education for all children, under the provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Meg Gardiner, Director of NGO's U.S. Fund for UNICEF, highlighted the world goals of "A World Fit for Children: A Global Plan of Action,' and of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (www.unicef.org). She also called for increased participation of youth, as they certainly proved themselves to be effective advocates and speakers during the UN Special Session on Children during May 2002. "We need to listen to the children," she said.

Nane Annan, author, lawyer, artist, advocate, and wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, inspired and affirmed teachers as she opened the afternoon session. "Teaching opens children's eyes to creativity and independence, as it frees children to imagine and thus create a new world," she said. She also emphasized literacy as a tool of empowerment for girls around the world who have no voice.

Whether we are working with young children, youth, or adults, literacy and the love of learning are the keys to their success.

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