UNESCO Literacy Prizes 2014

On 11 August UNESCO announced the five winners for its International Literacy Prizes 2014. The Prizes consist of the King Sejong Literacy Prize for organisations that are involved in the fight for literacy, and the Confucius Prize for Literacy for organisations promoting literacy among rural adults and out-of-school youth, particularly women and girls. The theme chosen for this year’s awards was “literacy and sustainable development”. The winning organisations were from Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Spain and South Africa.

The Ministry of Education of Ecuador was recognised for its project on “Basic Education for Youth and Adults”. This project provides a comprehensive teaching programme to the learners and, in particular, teaches indigenous populations in their mother tongue.

Burkina Faso
The Association for Promoting Non-Formal Education in Burkina Faso received the award for a programme directed towards women to improve their education, health, as well as their economic situation, and is being implemented in five languages. Within Burkina Faso, IFRRO’s RRO member, the Bureau Burkinabé du Droit d’Auteur (BBDA), is a multipurpose CMO created in 1985 that supports the local creative industries by providing rightholders with remuneration and financing various cultural activities.

The Algerian Association for Literacy was honoured for its work on a greater integration of women who live in extreme poverty in rural regions by improving their literacy skills and supporting them in their professional endeavours.

The fourth organisation to be awarded was the Spanish Lifelong Learning School for Community Development Poligono Sur that helps Spanish citizens, North African migrants and Roma people to enhance their professional and literacy skills through community activities and in a multicultural environment. In Spain, CEDRO, IFRRO’s RRO member, represents 20,309 authors and 1,926 publishing houses and works to ensure that they receive fair remuneration for the secondary uses of their works. CEDRO also plays an important social role by supporting various projects and trainings for rightholders in Spain (more information can be found here).

South Africa
Finally, the fifth winners were the South African Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy and the American International Literacy Institute for their joint initiative “Bridges to the Future” that helps people from all ages in rural areas to gain new ICT-skills. Useful learning content on health, vocational education and sustainable development is also made available to them. IFRRO has RRO members in both South Africa (DALRO) and the USA (CCC, the Copyright Clearance Center) that work on a daily basis to support authors and publishers and to foster cultural diversity in these countries.

IFRRO and IPA’s nominations
IFRRO, which has the status of a NGO in official partnership with UNESCO, also put forward a nomination for this year’s Literacy Prizes - a Dutch organisation co-founded by the Dutch Publishers Association, the Commissie Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB), which promotes book reading in the Netherlands. Among other initiatives, the CPNB is responsible for organising the Dutch book week every year and is also regularly launching campaigns to support book reading as a lifelong habit – for example, their last campaign “Vaders voor lezen” aims at encouraging all fathers to read books to their young children. More information on the CPNB is available here.

Also, the RRO member of IFRRO in Malawi, COSOMA, had been nominated by the International Publishers Association for the Prizes. This nomination was a recognition of COSOMA’s participation in the Reading Circles in Rural Community Primary Schools project in Malawi. COSOMA launched this project in 2010 together with the Book Publishers Association of Malawi in order to fight illiteracy in the most rural areas of Malawi by creating libraries in schools that were lacking educational textbooks. These libraries are filled with books donated by publishing houses, a condition of the programme being that libraries be also open to people in the surrounding areas; this has enabled young women who had dropped schools to have access to books and to eventually re-enrol in secondary education.

Although the CPNB and COSOMA were not among the winners this year, we acknowledge the wonderful work that they have done and continue to do every day to reach those furthest away from books and education.

Further information on the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes is available here.