Magazine article UN Chronicle

Promoting Literacy for a Decade of Action

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Promoting Literacy for a Decade of Action

Article excerpt

The United Nations Literacy Decade began with strong backing from the international community of educators as 500 teachers and representatives from educational institutions gathered at UN Headquarters in New York on 31 January for the conference, "Literacy Now: Building an Educated World". Hosted by the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations, the conference provided a platform for literacy experts to discuss issues and trends, including the use of information technologies and the impact of AIDS, gender discrimination and poverty on literacy rates. Delegates were given the opportunity to learn about successful projects from fellow educators and their students.

In her conference address, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), highlighted the crucial role literacy plays in the enjoyment of a fulfilled and healthy life: "Education has been called the great equalizer, and rightly so; it is a powerful instrument for reducing poverty and inequality. It is a powerful tool for improving health and social well-being, and laying the basis for sustained economic growth."

The senior advisor of the Education Programme Division at the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Elaine Fumiss, discussed uses of literacy as a political tool, explaining that it is not only the means for fulfilling the right to education but also for accessing other rights, such as the right to information and freedom of opinion and expression. …

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