[Technology 1200] Message for International Literacy Day

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tsticht at znet.com tsticht at znet.com
Fri Aug 10 14:15:32 EDT 2007

A Message for International Literacy Day 2007

UNESCO Recognition for Industrialized Nations:

>From Fighting Pockets of Illiteracy to Raising Levels of Literacy

Tom Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education

During 2007 I am presenting a series of workshops entitled Adult Literacy
Education in Industrialized Nations. Earlier, I worked for 25 years
(1979-2003) as a volunteer member of UNESCO's International Literacy Prize
Jury. This Jury recommends to the Director General of UNESCO the winners of
UNESCO's literacy awards each year on September 8, International Literacy

For most of the time that UNESCO has awarded literacy recognition the
discourse was about "illiteracy" and most attention was, and still is,
focussed on developing nations with large percentages of illiterate adults
(age 15 and above). There were times, however, when recognition was given
to industrialized nations where it was generally said that illiteracy was
not a major problem but there were "pockets of illiteracy." This usually
referred to socially marginalized groups of indigenous persons, immigrants,
poverty stricken, incarcerated, and the like.

Over time, the discourse of literacy has varied and has included
"illiteracy," "functionally illiterate," "functionally literate," "literacy
levels," and "multiple literacies." This listing moves from thinking about
"illiteracy" as being almost totally unable to read and write, to thinking
about literacy as a continuum from illiteracy through gradients of literacy
from low to higher levels and to the idea of "multiple literacies" meaning
the ability to use a variety of symbolic communication media (e.g, the
internet) and graphic technologies such as maps, graphs, and the like.

UNESCO may provide three types of recognition on International Literacy Day:
Major Prizes with monetary awards, Honorable Mentions, and Recognition in
the Palmares, the official document that proclaims the winners of each
year's recognition. Of the six industrialized nations that are discussed in
my workshop, five have received multiple recognition primarily before the
shift in discourse in talking about "illiteracy" to "levels of literacy" or
"multiple literacies." This UNESCO recognition has helped each of these five
nations keep the need for literacy education in their nation in the
awareness of policymakers and has provided a foundation for major
activities that are underway to advance levels of literacy in these nations

On September 8th of this year we should continue to press for international
attention to the plight of hundreds of millions of illiterate adults around
the world. But we should also recognize the need in all nations, both
developing and developed, to raise the levels of literacy of thousands of
millions of adults and promote the multiple literacies of adults who are at
risk of losing such advances as they have made in their lives and the lives
of their families in the face of a rapidly changing world.

As a member of UNESCO's International Literacy Jury I was honored to
participate in recognizing the work of nations that are part of my workshop
on Adult Literacy in Industrialized Nations. Today I am pleased to once
again recognize the outstanding adult literacy work that these nations have
performed in the past, and to call attention to the continuing efforts of
these and other industrialized nations which are today locked in a struggle
to enhance the lives of millions of adults and their families through
policies and practices aimed at improving literacy.

Celebrate Adult Literacy Education on September 8th!

UNESCO recognition of my workshop industrialized nations:

1. Australia
1969 HM Summer Institute of Education
1984 R Mr. Archibald Alexander Nelson
1989 R Workplace Education Project
1991 R News on Wheels

2. Canada
1977 HM Frontier College, Basic Education of the Canadian Frontier
1985 HM Canadian Organization for Development Through Education (CODE)
1988 HM Southam Incorporated
1995 Major Prize Community Academic Services Program (CASP), New Brunswick
2002 HM National Adult Literacy Database

3. New Zealand
1988 HM Mr. Michael Marquet
1995 HM Waitakera WEA Adult Literacy
1997 R National Association of ESOL Home Tutor Scheme
2000 HM Literacy Aotearoa, Inc.
2001 Major Prize Workbase, the National Center for Workplace Literacy &

4. United Kingdom
1981 HM "On the Move" Project of the British Broadcasting Corp.
1984 HM Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit (ALBSU)
1999 Major Prize Family Literacy Programme, Basic Skills Agency

5. United States
1968 HM International Reading Association
1971 HM National Affiliation for Literacy Advance
1972 HM Appalachian Adult Education Center
1978 HM Dr.Welthy Honziger Fisher
1980 R Mrs. Ruth Johnson Colvin
1981 R Laubach Literacy International
1992 R Beginning With Books Literacy Program
2007 Major Prize Reach out and Read

Legend: HM-Honorable Mention; R-Recognition in the Palmares

Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
2062 Valley View Blvd.
El Cajon, CA 92019-2059
Tel/fax: (619) 444-9133
Email: tsticht at aznet.net