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Literacy Conference in Beijing
The second of six UNESCO literacy conferences around the world took place on July 31st in Beijing. The goal was to address the challenges of literacy programs across the world based on their consideration that literacy is a human right, and a road to development and reduction of poverty. Recent studies show that 774 million people around the world cannot read or write, out of which two thirds are women. The gender gap is considered one of the main challenges in the East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific regions, with 70.4% of the illiterate population being women. Officials in the region show concern, as literacy is a foundation of lifelong learning that creates education and career opportunities as well as promotes better health. Although the overall literacy rate in the sub-region is relatively high at 91.7%, the total number of illiterate people is also high, with 81 million in China, 15 million in Indonesia and 3.8 in the Philippines.
UNESCO General Director Koichiro Matsuura hopes that the conferences will forge partnerships, foster an exchange of good practices, pull together resources, attract the attention of stakeholders and policymakers within governments, and encourage advocacy on behalf of UNESCO goodwill ambassadors and first ladies across the world. Although literacy conferences are essential to developing quality programs, follow-up on the conferences to ensure full implementation is even more important.
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