EBSN was invited to nominate a representative for an expert meeting to input into the UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025). After producing a draft outline strategy for an earlier on-line forum consultation, UNESCO brought together participants over two days to discuss the draft and the vision for literacy for the 21st century. Experts from Uganda, South Africa, Egypt, the Lebanon, Morocco, Mexico, India, New Zealand, Canada, France, and, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, civil society such as ICAE, and international organizations such as OECD, ILO, IFLA, to name, shared their views and experiences. I was very privileged to represent EBSN and our work towards supporting European policy and practice in basic skills.
The UNESCO Strategy will aim to support countries across the globe develop policies and strategies that integrate literacy from a holistic, cross-sectoral, lifelong and life-wide learning perspective. Many national strategies it is believed have been hampered by silo working and future strategies would benefit from a whole of government approach. It will focus on the needs of disadvantaged groups, in particular out of school youth, women and girls and people on the move. These groups have benefitted least from efforts to date and greater focus is required to ensure they benefit from future opportunities.
The challenge of raising adult literacy levels across the globe will be aided by the use of digital technologies to bring learning opportunities to more people. How best to do this and what evidence exists that illuminates best practice in this field was explored. Could a set of principles around this type of work be useful?
Data gathering for policy and its implementation is increasingly important and the need for appropriate monitoring and assessment of literacy skills was also discussed. Sharing of models and approaches that have yielded the required results is key to the work of UNESCO and also within the work of EBSN.
The revised strategy will be presented at the 207th session of the UNESCO Executive Board in October 2019.
Increasing and developing partnerships in raising adult literacy was also highlighted as necessary and EBSN was delighted to play a part in this regard. There are lessons for us all to learn and share as we tackle raising adult literacy levels in the 21st century.
Dr Inez Bailey