The United States of America today applauded the critical role that UNESCO that it has played as a champion for literacy.
On her opening remarks for the Launch of the University of Pennsylvania UNESCO Chair for Literacy, Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook for Bureau of International Organization Affairs said the promotion of universal literacy, as a part of our overall educational goals, is a cornerstone of President Obama’s foreign policy objectives.
“The United States firmly believes that literacy and education for all are the keys to broad-based, sustainable development around the world.” -Ms. Cook
The inability to read creates significant obstacles for citizens to participate fully and freely in their society. In an ever more complex and technologically-dependent world, gainful employment and access to information are often inextricably linked to one’s ability to read, Ms. Cook noted.
She stresses that sustainable economic and social growth is not possible if we do not ensure that everyone has the basic literacy skills to succeed.
Universal literacy is the first major step towards greater educational attainment for all, which in turn can lead to stronger democracy, prosperity, and freedom, Ms. Cook underlined.
UNESCO’s research work and advocacy for literacy are not only creating quality schools for children, but also quality lifelong learning opportunities.
“This is a role that UNESCO is uniquely qualified to fill. We hope that UNESCO will continue to forge ahead as the champion for literacy and education, especially in the most remote and underdeveloped regions of the world.” -Ms. Cook
The United States is also very encouraged by UNESCO’s expanding partnerships with our institutions of higher learning, such as the University of Pennsylvania.
US universities are engaged in some of the most innovative and fascinating learning and research on a wide range of topics, and the United States has a long and proud tradition of employing that research for the benefit humankind.
Today, nearly 20 U.S. universities share their knowledge globally through the UNESCO Chairs network.
Ms. Cook stresses that it has proven to be a very effective vehicle for these universities to forge strong connections with the developing world.
These connections benefit not only their partner institutions abroad, but also provide an enriching experience for our students here in the United States, Ms. Cook said.
The United States has also benefited greatly from our very active involvement in UNESCO since rejoining the organization nearly a decade ago.
Ms. Cook stresses that the US government is eager to continue its active engagement in the United Nations and welcome the opportunity to expand that relationship in ways that not only benefit the UN System as a whole, but also enrich the lives of everyday Americans.
Earlier this month, UNESCO endorsed a new roadmap that will provide the organization with a clear sense of direction and sets firm targets to meet as it move forward.
The new roadmap will also allow the organization to carry out its programme for the next year amid funding challeges.
UNESCO was forced to introduce financial reforms after the United States announced it was suspending its financial contribution last October and reducing the organization’s budget from $653 to $465 million.
The United States – which contributes 22 per cent of UNESCO’s budget – suspended its dues after the agency admitted Palestine as a full member on 31 October 2011.
UNESCO, which began work in 1946, has a specific mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.