UNESCO has selected six outstanding literacy programmes from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Mexico and South Africa as winners of its International Literacy Prizes, awarded on the occasion of International Literacy Day (8 September). During the COVID crisis, these programmes continued to help students learn to read and write through accessible technologies.
These programmes have literally changed the lives of thousands of children, young people, women and marginalised adults. Literacy empowers individuals and it expands people’s capabilities and freedom of choice.
-- Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General
At least 773 million youth and adults globally still cannot read and write, and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills. There are more non-literate women than men, and women are also increasingly left behind in the digital environment. This situation is expected to worsen, as COVID-19 school disruptions have caused learning losses. 23.8 million additional children and youth worldwide may drop out or not have access to school in 2021 due to the pandemic’s economic impact alone.
The awards will be presented during a virtual International Conference entitled “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide,” which UNESCO will host on 8 and 9 September.
The online event will bring together representatives of governments, development partners, experts and educators to explore how literacy can contribute to building a solid foundation for a human-centred recovery, with a special focus on the interrelation between literacy and the digital skills that half of the world’s population still lacks.
A special session focusing on inclusive distance and digital learning will be held with the prizewinners on 9 September(1.30pm to 2.45pm CET).
The three awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for work contributing to mother language-based literacy development, sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea, will be awarded to:
Each of the three UNESCO King Sejong prizewinners will receive a medal, a diploma and a cash prize of US$20.000.
The three awards of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, for work that contributes to functional literacy, leveraging technological environments, in support of adults in rural areas and out-of-school youth, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, will be given to:
Each of the three UNESCO Confucius prizewinners will receive a medal, a diploma and a cash prize of US$30.000.