UNESCO announces 2008 recipients of Literacy Prizes

30 July 2008

Projects from Brazil, Zambia, South Africa and Ethiopia have won this year’s Literacy Prizes awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of innovative programmes designed to teach reading skills to women, adolescents and other marginalized populations.

The theme for this year’s honours is “Literacy and Health,” and the winning projects focus on preventing disease and boosting care and treatment through literacy, highlighting key public health concerns such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The four winners are:

  • The “Alfabetizando com saude” initiative of the Curitiba City Council in Brazil, which was recognized for its work and cooperation with government health and education agencies.
  • Zambia’s “Reflect and HIV/AIDS” programme of the People’s Action Forum, which received an award for reaching rural women in mother tongue languages and using literacy to prevent and treat disease.
  • The “Kwanibela Project” of South Africa’s Operation Upgrade was bestowed with a prize for serving as a model to other countries for its focus on rural women, HIV/AIDS awareness and family nutrition and income.
  • Ethiopia’s “Literacy Plus” project of the Adult and Non-Formal Adult Education was recognized for its community-based approach to teaching business, conflict resolution and disease prevention.

According to UNESCO, approximately 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills. One in five adults – two-thirds of them being women – is illiterate, while over 70 million children are not in school.This year’s laureates were proclaimed by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura on the recommendation of a six-member international jury. The award ceremony will be held in Paris on 8 September, coinciding with International Literacy Day.


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