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International Literacy Day
by Asa Butcher
2006-09-09 12:53:33
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On September 8th, 1966, the World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy began in Tehran, Iran, and a result of this meeting was to proclaim that the opening date of the conference would be forever known as International Literacy Day.

Forty years on, UNESCO are celebrating the 39th (it was inaugurated a year later) official International Literacy Day and it has become a chance to take stock of global literacy standards. We ask how successful the Education for All (EFA) initiative has been in its attempt at increasing literacy rates by 50% by 2015 and how far the UN have progressed with their Literacy Decade that began in 2003.

Perhaps, like me, you don't think about literacy levels around the world every day, which is why these issues are assigned a certain day of the year when we can discuss the issue and think about what we can do to help. Literacy is not only defined by the ability to read and write, but it also incorporates listening and speaking skills, so an individual can function in society.

For many of us it comes as second nature to use these skills, yet an estimated 860 million adults (two thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write and more than 100 million children, again the majority female, who lack access to school. According to the United Nations Development Programme Report 2005, the UK and Finland are two of 21 countries with 99.9% literacy levels, yet it shocked me to see five EU members below 97%, while Greece scrapes through with 97.5%.

I did not expect to see the 'cradle of western civilization', the birthplace of western literature and drama to have approximately 281,000 illiterate people within its borders. Whether they are all Greek, I do not know, but Greece does not hold the dubious bottom spot or even second to bottom among current European Union members. Cyprus has illiteracy levels of 96.8% and Serbia 96.4, while Portugal and Malta share bottom spot with 92.5%.

Whether these levels accurately reflect an uneducated native or unskilled refugee does not matter, it is a frightening figure when you consider that two full member countries of the EU have 7.5% illiteracy rates. Naturally attention is focused upon those at the foot of the global table, not those with over 90%, even though they all demand help. When you see that ten nations with the worst literacy levels are all on the west coast of Africa and one of those, Burkina Faso, has over 11.5 million people termed illiterate.

Greece's population is approximately 11.2 million, so it does bring the EU's illiteracy problem sharply into perspective, but it still exists. The UK, my own country, may have 99.9% literacy, but that doesn't equate to complacency when so many children's dyslexia goes un-noticed for years and schools lack the proper funding to offer the support and attention they demand. In addition, Britain's schools are suffering from an ever-increasing class size and a survey of 2,000 adults revealed that a third had not bought a new book in the previous 12 months, while 34% said they did not read books.

International Literacy Day is the time to encourage the third to head to a bookshop and persuade the 34% to read one book. How hard can that be?

To find out more about International Literacy Day, visit UNESCO at www.unesco.org and the International Reading Association at www.reading.org.

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Ergotelina2006-09-08 12:13:12
Tehranese conference!!
Aren't they afraid of nukes?....

Here is the Countries List

At the top of the cradle of civilization is Australia....

Times changed...

Asa2006-09-08 12:50:35
Oz make it to the top thanks to alphabetical supremacy!

BTW Why do they use a word like 'dyslexia' that is a bitch for most people to spell correctly?

Alan2006-09-08 14:33:11
How can they organise anything a Teheran? There is a dictatorship in Iran

Thanos2006-09-08 17:38:17
the word dyslexia is Greek!!!

Asa2006-09-08 19:42:29
"the word dyslexia is Greek!!!"

Hey, it is the big fat Greek! You should go and check out Sofia's letter from London...every word can find its foundation in Greek!

Try sauna!

Ergotelina2006-09-08 20:03:57
Dyslexia is a learning disability
of bio or psycho reasons

If it 's a bitch word to spell
then you 've chosen the
appropriate one...

instead of the easy,trivial way..
* LD or Learning Disability
* ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder
* ADHD or Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder

dys-(negative prefix like un-,dis-,non-) + Greek lexis, speech (from legein, to speak; leg- in Indo-European roots)
for example,italian
leggere = read

Spelling problems remain?...

May "Eulexia" be with you....


Ergotelina2006-09-08 20:44:39
Sauna on Suomalainen sana

Sauna is a Finnish word.
No Indoeuropean linguistic connections.

Asa2006-09-08 22:21:23
There is also the irony of the word 'abbreviation'. Something long to describe something short...oh well.

I did my bit for International Literacy Day by reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar to her...in reverse order. 14 month old attentions spans are short.

Eric2006-09-09 12:10:29
Nokia is the only Indoeuropean linguistic connection from Finland

Ergotelina2006-09-09 16:26:38
Nokia has been around long enough that its name is obscure even to most Finns. The name comes from the archaic Finnish word nokia short for nokinäätä (lit. "soot marten") meaning sable,
(a small mammal, closely akin to the martens) from Old Finnish nois (pl. nokia) for "soot".


Asa2006-09-09 22:05:30
Isn't 'tundra' another word of Finnnish (Sami) origin in the world dictionary?

Ovi will be the next!

Antti2006-09-10 20:44:41
I hope you realize that NOKIA took its name from the town that originates not from anu other meaning.

Rubberboy2006-09-10 21:58:58
They also make wellies, ya know.

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