International Literacy Day – Advocating for Literacy For All

International Literacy Day (ILD) is a critical reminder to all GCE members and education stakeholders that literacy is a key component of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the targets for SDG 4 is to ensure all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are empowered to acquire them. This ideal aligns with GCE’s mandate, which is to advocate for quality education as a basic right for all through its extensive network of civil society coalitions across the globe.

Photo Credit: NCENepal’s Back to school campaign

Learning to read and write is an important fundamental life skill. Despite increased efforts and resources to fight against illiteracy worldwide, and the subsequent rise in literacy levels over the past five decades, illiteracy continues to persist as a global crisis. According to the UIS Statistics (2017), 61 million children are out of school, many more attend irregularly and others simply drop out. More so, it is estimated that over 700 million adults around the world lack minimum literacy skills,  two thirds of them being women. In developing countries, high illiteracy is a significant and persistent challenge. Research paints a grim connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, including high illiteracy among women. Overwhelming evidence affirms the importance of basic education, and improved literacy levels for development.  This calls for more aggressive measures and interventions in the global fight against illiteracy.

Since 1966, each year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrate International Literacy Day (ILD) and emphasize the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. This year’s theme was ‘Literacy and Skills Development’. The day advances the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. ILD is an opportunity for governments, civil society and education stakeholders to highlight progress in literacy rates around the world as well as reflect on existing challenges and steps needed to achieve literacy for all.

To support this mission, GCE’s Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) joined the rest of the world in celebrating ILD, through various events. We showcase these activities as GCE dedication to support SDG 4 and advocate for basic and quality education as a reality for everyone.

National Campaign for Education (NCE) – NEPAL – Demonstration of the Educational Publications:

NCE Nepal together in coordination with Ministry of Education (MoE) hosted an exhibition event with partner organizations. The stalls were filled with different sets of publications that highlight the status of public education and the need of public education strengthening. High level officials and dignitaries visited the stalls and provided their views regarding the work of the organization.

Hon. Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli himself looking into the publications of the organization expressed his good wishes for the further success of the organization to achieve the its goal of ensuring equitable, inclusive, quality and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Besides, Hon. Education Minister, Education Secretary, UN officials, local government representatives, community stakeholders, parents, students etc. also visited the stall and provided their good remarks for the organizational success.

Discourse on Literacy and Skills Development at the district level:

The National Campaign for Education in Nepal (NCE Nepal) dedicates the month of September towards strengthening the public education system to ensure quality basic education for all.  Together with its district coordination committee, NCE Nepal Parbat organized a discourse program with more than 50 participants including Mayor, Deputy Mayor, other representatives of the local government, District coordination committee, parents, teachers, School Management Committee (SMC) representative, people with disability, representatives from child club etc. Intensive discourse programme looked at the overall existing status of the Parbat district and what the local government, CSOs, parents, students can do from their individual side to enhance the skills and quality of education of the children of the district was made. The official from Education Development and Coordination Unit of the district presented the overall status of the district based on each local unit. Through the discussions, it was identified that the major problem of the district was the management of the teachers.

The discussion identified gender discrimination as an educational issue to be addressed. Girls have a limited access to education. This is because the curriculum is not skill oriented and the opportunity cost of education is very high. Besides, since the schools still do not have girls friendly and the disabled friendly infrastructure, the dropouts is also increasing. All the local government during the discussion felt the need to develop the education that could be linked to the skills and more investment is to be made in the technical and vocational education. Local government representatives provided their strong commitment to work in this issue and also requested to the CSOs, all the parents and the students to support to the local government in this overall mission of public education strengthening.

Coalition Nationale Malgache pour l’Éducation pour Tous (CONAMEPT) – MADAGASCAR

CONAMEPT believes fighting illiteracy is a long-term journey which requires dedication from the whole education ecosystem. To celebrate International Literacy Day the coalition organised two main events.

Launch event for the national strategy for literacy: September 7th CONAMEPT together with Education Ministry launched the revised National Strategy for Literacy in Madagascar.  The special event launch was hosted by the Ministry of National Education and supported by both the President and Prime Minister of Madagascar.

Literacy and skills development workshop: In line with this year’s ILD theme, CONAMEPT held a literacy and skills development workshop targeting vulnerable women and girls from Anamalanga, Tsaramasay and Anosy communities. The theme was “Give us skills to develop profit-making activities and uplift our livelihoods.” The workshop objective was to exchange learning possibilities outside the formal education system and identifying opportunities for young mothers to access professional training and uplift their livelihoods.

Sudanese Coalition for Education for All (SCEFA) joined the ILD celebrations and organised the following activities:

A public event on 8th September in Um Darman to celebrate ILD, where women and children from the surrounding community participated in shared learning experiences and elevated the paramount call to civil society to embolden effort that support young women, children and adult literacy.

September 11th, a media roundtable was hosted to discuss the outcomes of ILD celebrations with the objective of increasing awareness and visibility around the main themes of the event and stakeholder’s commitments towards making literacy a reality for everyone.  More than anything, this day strengthened the coalitions commitment to reducing illiteracy throughout Sudan. Across five districts in the country five more workshops will be hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Education to discuss alternative learning and education.

A version of this blog first is also available on the GPE website.

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