Speech- UNESCO Ha Noi – 2009

MESSAGE FROM EDUCATION ALLIANCE

Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO representative
(on behalf of the partners in the Global Campaign for Education)
Date: 23 April 2008
Event: National event of the EFA Global Action Week

z with you this morning to celebrate the 2009 Education for All (EFA) Global Action Week National event. On behalf of the Global Campaign for Education, I would like to welcome all of you and express our sincere appreciation for the very thorough preparations for this event. Particularly, I would like to thank all those who devoted their time and efforts to make this joint activity happen.

EFA Global Action Week is an annual event organized by the Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of civil society organizations, sharing the purpose of raising awareness and lobbying for greater equity, access and quality in education to achieve the Education for All (EFA) goals by 2015. Over the years, the EFA coalition in Viet Nam has supported this annual event by mobilizing its networks and partners country wide.

Education for All is the commitment that by the year 2015 all children, youth and adults will be provided quality basic education. And when we say All we do mean All. Also the 5-10 % children and young adults who live in very remote areas, who belong to ethnic minorities, children whose mother tongue is different from the language of instruction, children with learning difficulties, in particular girls etc. There is a tendency as we move towards having 85, 90, 95% enrolment to think that we have achieved the goals. Although the percentage may seem small, in terms of numbers, we are still talking about many, many individuals.

This year, Global Action Week which is organized from 20 to 26 April focuses on ‘Youth, and Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning’. Literacy – a basic human right – is the foundation for lifelong learning, but it remains a relatively neglected EFA area. Literacy enables individuals not only to read, write and calculate, but also to interpret, create and communicate using printed and written materials. Good quality literacy programmes enable individuals to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate in their community and wider society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009, there are still a staggering 774 million adults and 75 million children who cannot read and write. This means that at least one-fifth of the world’s adult population – one in four women – does not have this essential life skill. The Word Youth Report 2005 estimated that almost 515 million young people, or nearly 45 per cent of all young people, live on less than $2 a day. Around 88.2 million young women and men are unemployed throughout the world, accounting for 47 per cent of all the 185.9 million unemployed persons globally.

The fight against illiteracy in general, and adult illiteracy in particular is one that requires urgent attention as there is great likelihood that many of the countries assessed so far will not meet the goal of halving illiteracy by 2015 unless extraordinary efforts are made to address illiteracy. The key issue is that there should be more investment in literacy and long term youth and adult education programmes. On behalf of the Global Alliance, I would like to call on the government and development partners to ensure sufficient allocation of resources – both financial as well as human – for eradicating illiteracy in Viet Nam.

Along with increased attention to literacy, there is also the need to sharpen our approach to improve the quality of learning. It is unacceptable that young people who although having completed the primary education cycle, still are functionally illiterate because of poor quality education. Therefore quality of education and learning outcomes are critical for any education programme. All means at our disposal must be mobilized for concerted actions to strengthen the quality dimension in all education programmes, including identification of the performance benchmarks and monitoring of the outcomes.

Traditional methods of self reporting and assessing literacy levels among populations do not provide fully accurate data and this is an aspect that needs to be looked at seriously. There are efforts to address this issue through the Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP) led by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). LAMP has been started in many countries and Vietnam has also expressed interest in piloting LAMP from this year, which will provide a detailed information on literacy levels, thereby providing the foundation for better targeted actions to eliminate illiteracy.

Today’s world which is hit by economic crisis and recession needs cooperation between all partners committed to education more than ever. I am very pleased that the partnership between NGOs, international organizations and the Vietnamese government has been strengthened over the years in promoting EFA. Last year, more than 3 million people took part in the World’s Biggest Lesson on 23rd April to mark the Global Action Week 2008 in Viet Nam. This year we have received close to sixty thousand stories as entries for the Big Book 2009 writing competition. Children, teachers, adult learners, parents and education practitioners have taken part in this competition, which was organized nationwide. This demonstrates strong commitment and enthusiasm among the Vietnamese population for learning and the promotion of a literate environment. The Big Book of 2009 which is currently being compiled will be published soon.

I would like to conclude by expressing our sincere thanks to Bac Ninh DOET for your hospitality and good preparation of this National event. I am confident that this event will further strengthen the collaboration between the Government of Vietnam, the international community and civil society in addressing “literacy issues” and unfinished agendas of Education for All. Let us all contribute to building a learning society in Viet Nam.

Thank you very much (Xin cam on rat nhieu)

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