Literacy programmes in Bhutan, Indonesia, Colombia and Rwanda have won UNESCO’s literacy prizes for 2012. The winners will receive $20,000 each, as well as a diploma and a medal when UNESCO celebrates World Literacy Day on September 6. The awards are part of the organization’s commitment to support effective literacy policies and programmes around the world.
There is very varied progress towards the Education for All Goal on literacy in the four countries where the prize winning programmes are based. In Bhutan, only just over half (53%) of youth and adults are literate – a number that is projected to increase to 64% by 2015. Rwanda has 71% literacy, while Indonesia and Colombia both have 93% literacy.
Literacy leads to better lives. It empowers people to become active in their societies and to learn more. By contrast, illiteracy is a poverty trap that hinders development of both individuals and countries. In our upcoming 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report on youth, skills and work, we will examine how having poor literacy skills often means being less employable. It is also a large barrier to learning more job-specific skills. The report will be launched on October 16.