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International Literacy Day International Literacy Day
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-09-08 07:48:18
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Today one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women while 75 million children are out of school. Since its foundation in 1946, UNESCO has been at the forefront of global literacy efforts and is dedicated to keeping literacy high on national, regional and international agendas. However, with some 776 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all remains an elusive target.

According to UNESCO’s "Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2008)", South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%), and the Arab States (62.7%). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%). The report shows a clear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women.

The celebration's theme for 2007 and 2008 is “Literacy and Health”. This is also the thematic emphasis of the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade. In particular, International Literacy Day 2008 has a strong emphasis on Literacy and Epidemics with a focus on communicable diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, some of the world's most important public health concerns.

To raise public awareness of the extraordinary value of the written word and of the necessity to promote a literate society, the following writers are supporting UNESCO through the Writers for Literacy Initiative: Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Philippe Claudel, Paulo Coelho, Philippe Delerm, Fatou Diome, Chahdortt Djavann, Nadine Gordimer, Amitav Ghosh, Marc Levy, Alberto Manguel, Anna Moi, Scott Momaday, Toni Morrison, Erik Orsenna, Gisèle Pineau, El Tayeb Salih, Francisco Jose Sionil, Wole Soyinka, Amy Tan, Miklós Vámos, Abdourahman Waberi, Wei Wei, Banana Yoshimoto.

Not only writers contribute to raising awareness to the problem of illiteracy. Next to the writers’ engagement, there are various companies and charity organizations that support the fight against illiteracy. Another supporter of the common goal to help underprivileged children around the world to learn how to read and write is Montblanc. The company, known for its manufacturing of handwriting instruments, has launched various initiatives to support UNICEF’s educational programmes.

On the World Literacy Day 2009, Montblanc will auction off 12 portraits of famous actresses to the benefit of UNICEF. Upfront, the portraits travel around the world. Fans and collectors are allowed to view them and to place silent bids. Each portrait is individually signed by the depicted star and will finally be auctioned on September 8th, 2009.

 

 

 


      
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