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Groups in Mauritius, Brazil, China win UNESCO international literacy prizes

Groups in Mauritius, Brazil, China win UNESCO international literacy prizes

An organization in Mauritius focussing on women’s literacy, a Brazilian group targeting 4 million illiterate adults and a programme reaching out to a large geographically isolated population in China have won this year’s United Nations literacy prizes.

The prizes, awarded by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of particularly effective contributions to the fight against illiteracy, one of the agency’s priorities, call attention to the efforts of thousands of men and women who devote themselves year after year to advancing the cause of literacy for all.

This year, the jury focused particularly on candidates whose work promoted gender equality, in accordance with the theme assigned by the UN Literacy Decade (2003-2012) of which UNESCO is the lead agency.

The International Reading Association Literacy Award, worth $15,000, went to L’Edikasyon pu travayer, a non-governmental organization in Mauritius, chosen by the jury for an adult literacy programme that places the emphasis on women, its respect for cultural context and use of mother languages.

The two King Sejong Literacy Prizes, each worth $15,000, were awarded to Alfabetização Solidária (AlfaSol, Brazil) and the Steering Group of Literacy Education in Qinghai Province (China).

AlfaSol has launched a literacy programme aimed at 4 million illiterate adults, based on an innovative, simple and cost-effective model. The programme covers both urban and rural populations, encourages participation of women and reaches the poorest and most isolated people, creating a large group of educators within the country. The model has been successfully exported to other countries.

The Steering Group of Literacy Education in Qinghai Province responded to the needs of a large and geographically isolated population, concentrating on women and various ethnic minorities. It created a methodology combining literacy with skills training geared to the needs of farmers and herdsmen. Post-literacy is offered by providing access for farmers and parents to libraries, reading rooms and educational resources of schools.

The winners were selected from 28 candidates by a jury that met from 10 to 14 May at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. They will receive their prizes in their own countries on International Literacy Day on 8 September.