Annual general meeting of the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL): assessing the challenges of COVID 19 on youth and adult literacy

The annual general meeting of the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) assessed the challenge of COVID 19 on youth and adult Literacy. AU highlighted that the continental strategy is aligned with the strategy of the global alliance.

“We are in this journey together and it behooves us who are duty bearers to drive this agenda and galvanize actions among our constituents through improvements in policies, strategies, evidence and innovation to achieve universal literacy”, stated H.E. Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission (HRST-AUC), during her speech at the annual general meeting of the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL).

The Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) met virtually on 28 and 29 October 2020 to assess the unprecedented challenges brought by COVID-19 on youth and adult literacy in its 29 member countries. The meeting was hosted by UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and reviewed national education response plans and strategies in the context of the pandemic and explored how new partnerships, including with the UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition, and with the new Associate Members of the Alliance, could advance youth and adult literacy in GAL countries. A ministerial panel selected countries to present their countries’ strategies for ensuring access to literacy provision during the pandemic.

Professor Sarah shared her appreciation for the kind invitation to join the Global Alliance for Literacy as an Associate Member, which the African Union Commission had the honour to accept. By introducing her words, she underlined that “we must endeavor to address the nascent literacy challenge in Africa at this critical time when the COVID-19 pandemic has put learning systems to test and as we strive to build back better”. She mentioned that literacy is fundamental for the active participation of youth in today’s knowledge-based society and the development of nations. With the COVID-19 containment measures, she indicated that literacy has taken center stage as a foundation, on which citizens are enabled to play an active role in improving their own health and that of their communities.

The African Union Commission has been at the forefront in promoting literacy in Africa. The Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA16-25) notes that illiteracy has been a major challenge to the adoption of scientific and technological innovations, geared towards improvements in health, agriculture and livelihoods. One of the strategic objectives of CESA-16-25 is “launching of comprehensive and effective literacy programmes across the continent to eradicate the scourge of illiteracy.” The Strategy further underscores the need to embark on massive literacy campaigns including the adoption of “Learning Cities Initiative” to promote life-long learning for all.

The Commissioner stressed the need to availing adequate literacy infrastructure and resources to support cultivating the culture of peace and acting as a springboard for African cultural renaissance to advance continental integration. She encouraged AU member states to increase investment in literacy infrastructure, promote digital innovations and reading materials without copyright infringement and invest in literacy and lifelong learning systems to the disadvantaged population.

H.E. Professor Sarah commended UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning for developing the 2020-2025 Strategy for Global Alliance for Literacy. In her opinion, the 5 strategic goals: Policy and Planning, Equity, Innovation, Data and Evidence and Partnerships resonate seamlessly well with Agenda 2063 and CESA-16-25. She believed that the implementation would go a long way in driving literacy levels, not only among members of the Global Alliance, but also across African countries.

The Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) engages a multiplicity of stakeholders to advocate for the importance of youth and adult literacy and to catalyse in an effective and coordinated manner effort to improve it in the countries that need it the most.

For more information on the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL) and African Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA16-25, please kindly visit the links below:

GAL Strategy 2020-2025: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373033
General information on GAL: https://uil.unesco.org/literacy/global-alliance
The Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA16-25): https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/29958-doc-cesa_-_english-v9.pdf

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