Literacy in a digital world at heart of International Literacy Day, 8 September 2017

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Paris: This year’s UNESCO International Literacy Prizes will be awarded to laureates from Canada, Colombia, Jordan, Pakistan and South Africa on the occasion of International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September. This year’s Literacy Prizes and celebration will focus on literacy in a digital world.

The prize-giving ceremony will be organized at UNESCO Headquarters and be part of the Organization’s global celebration of the Day, held in the context of the 2030 Education Agenda by which the international community has pledged to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.

This year’s event will bring together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies. This is particularly important considering that 750 million illiterate people around the world, 63% of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills. This population includes 102 million young people (aged 15-24), of whom 57% are female, according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

“Digital technologies permeate all spheres of our lives, fundamentally shaping how we live, work, learn and socialize,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for the Day. She emphasizes the importance of rethinking and improving skills required to take part in the digital world: “These new technologies are opening vast new opportunities to improve our lives and connect globally—but they can also marginalize those who lack the essential skills, like literacy, needed to navigate them.”

At 5 pm on the Day, Ms Bokova will host the International Literacy Prizes ceremony during which each laureate will present their programmes and receive a medal and a monetary award.

The two awards of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea, will be given to:

Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada), for the Using Educational Technology to Develop Essential Educational Competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa project, which develops and distributes its material internationally free of charge.

We Love Reading (Jordan), a programme with a virtual community that offers online read-aloud trainings for parents, mobilizes volunteers to read aloud in community spaces to children and provides age-appropriate material through a digital library.

The three awards of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and rewarding work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women, will be given to:

AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia), for teaching digital competencies to seniors.

The Citizens Foundation (Pakistan) for its Aagahi Literacy Programme for Women and Out-of-School Girls, which conducts digital educational needs assessments and provides teaching services to support the education of younger girls and older women.

FunDza (South Africa) for its readers and writers project to develop a culture of reading and writing for pleasure through an online platform that provides reading courses and writing competitions as well as connecting readers and writers.

As part of International Literacy Day, the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World, a partnership between UNESCO and Pearson, will present its first batch of case studies on how inclusive digital solutions can improve livelihoods.