US Outlines Approches to Combat Illiteracy

Recognizing the literacy play an important role for achieving rapid economic growth, the United States of America today outlines approaches to combat illiteracy around the world.

In her remarks at the International Literacy Day 2012, Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer for Bureau of International Organization says if a country elevates its literacy rate by 20%, its GDP also can increase by as much as 16%.

“On the other hand if less than 40 percent of a nation’s population can read, it cannot achieve rapid economic growth.” -Ms. Brimmer

Three Laotian girls sit outside their school, each absorbed in reading a book they received at a rural school book party.

According to the United Nations, USAID, the World Bank, and UNICEF, educating girls is the single most cost-effective means of achieving human development and reducing poverty in the developing world.

So how do we get to a place where more people read and write than do not?

Ms. Brimmer outlined approaches to combat the grip of illiteracy.

According to Ms. Brimmer, First, global partnerships are key to combatting illiteracy.

Partners bring diverse perspectives to an issue- – swapping stories, brainstorming new innovations, expanding the impact of past experience, Ms. Brimmer underlined

She says together, global partnerships can find solutions to universal challenges such as illiteracy and inadequate education.

“Second, we invest in global literacy education: One way the U.S.does this is through UNESCO’s UN Literacy Decade Fund, which supports innovative programs.” -Ms. Brimmer

She cites that one such example is the Global Partnership for Girls and Women’s Education which Secretary of State Clinton launched at UNESCO last year.

Countries can also harness the power of technology to take advantage of educational resources: a whole new way to learn, Ms. Brimmer said.

People are now just a click away from the best minds and lessons to teach people to read, Ms. Brimmer added.

Ms. Brimmer says that these multilateral projects advance effective practices and innovations in countries where the barriers of illiteracy and inadequate education are truly holding back development.

“We know that if the world can read everyone is better off. The US advances projects that target countries, sectors, and populations where illiteracy and inadequate education stifle development.” -Ms. Brimmer

An exciting future lies in these types of partnerships, multilateral cooperation, and innovation, she stressed.

She says multilateral organizations like the United Nations and initiatives like the UN Decade for Literacy galvanize the global community and provide the structure and direction to work toward achieving a common goal.

Some of the innovations U.S. are very involved in, along with our global partners, are new technologies such as those that power Open Educational Resources and mobile learning, Ms Brimmer noted.

She adds that both reach new audiences and develop new opportunities for promoting literacy around the world.

“We are not only creating, but also connecting resources for learners, educators, and policy makers.” -Ms. Brimmer

Ms. Brimmer also stated that the United Nations is leading efforts to catalyze the “global conversation” for the next generation of the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This includes the education sector, NGOs, and all key stakeholders to this discussion, she cited.

Ms. Brimmer urges that all must contribute to this process with UNESCO and UNICEF, with other UN agencies and NGOs, and within your own organizations.

“Become part of this “global conversation on literacy, education, and development” whether in the corner, at the table, or online in virtual space.” -Ms. Brimmer

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 793 million adults lack minimum literacy skills which means thatA about one in six adults is still not literate; 67.4 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.A

UNESCO warns that illiteracy undermines efforts to eliminate a host of social ills such as poverty and sickness and threatens the very stability of nations.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that more than half the adults in 11 countries are illiterate. These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.