UNESCO Promoting Literacy In Iraq

On the occasion of International Literacy Day, UNESCO calls on national institutions and civil society to join forces to promote literacy for all as a tool for inclusive and sustainable development in Iraq.

“I take this occasion to call upon governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to scale up their support to literacy,” stressed Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, in her message for the Day. “Literacy and women’s empowerment” is the theme for this year celebrations, which focus on the importance of literacy and gender equality as one of the global strategic priorities for sustainable development.

UNESCO Iraq Office will seize this opportunity to organize events throughout Iraq together with the Ministry of Education and National NGOs to ensure participation of all Iraqi citizens and invites them to express their views towards the development of a national literacy strategy in Iraq. Activities will take place during last week of September due to celebration of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and will include: Roundtables and conferences with Members of Parliament, community leaders, literacy practitioners and coordinators to discuss policy options to reduce illiteracy in Iraq; organizing community plays about literacy and women’s empowerment in national theaters; dissemination of awareness raising material on best literacy stories; and screening of TV spots in the UNESCO supported educational TV among others.

“Literacy is the necessary tool for social development and peace building,” said Mohammed Djelid, Director of the UNESCO Iraq Office, adding that “the achievement of the Literacy goal of reducing illiteracy by 50% by 2015 relies on the development of an effective strategy and implementation of inclusive policies for literacy.”

National illiteracy rates are estimated at 20% in Iraq. Women are particularly affected by illiteracy, especially in rural areas, where close to 50% of women aged between 15 and 24 are illiterate, compared to 28%-20% of women living in urban and metropolitan areas. The Government of Iraq (GoI) has responded to the literacy gap with the development of new literacy textbooks, the introduction of accelerated learning programs, and the opening of new literacy centres. However, equal access and attendance remain obstacles to progress on literacy in Iraq.

To address these challenges, the UNESCO Iraq Office in 2010 launched the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) for Iraq with funding from the Office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, First Lady of Qatar and UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education. LIFE, which is a 4 year project with a budget of US$ 6,300,000, will contribute to strengthening the capacity of the Iraqi Government and civil society to deliver sustainable and empowering literacy for all.

For Further Information Please Contact:

Alberto Biancoli, Education Project Manager, UNESCO Iraq Office [email protected]

Tel: +962 59 02 340

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