UNESCO Conference to fight illiteracy in East Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific

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A sub-regional conference entitled “Literacy challenges in East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific: Building partnerships and promoting innovative approaches”, in support of literacy will take place in Beijing (China) on 31 July and 1 August, 2007, which would be organised by UNESCO. The focus of the conference would be to assess the literacy situation in East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. Although the total number of people who can read and write in this part of the world is high, (91.7%), a considerable gender gap persists, with women making up 70% of the illiterate population. The situation also varies significantly from one country to another.

The conference will provide an opportunity to build renewed commitment and make concrete proposals to promote literacy at country level in East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. Debate will take the form of round tables on literacy policies, strategies and programmes. Specific regional issues will also be addressed, such as literacy in a multilingual context and literacy and rural development. In addition, the conference will present effective practices and show how the challenge of illiteracy can be met in different contexts using a variety of approaches. A main objective of the conference is to build cooperation between stakeholders and to mobilize partners and resources to develop concrete initiatives in countries.

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The conference is one of a series of six regional conferences in support of global literacy. Between now and the end of 2008, four others will be held in the same vein. They will extend the work of the White House Conference on Global Literacy organized in New York on 18 September 2006, hosted by Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States and Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) and UNESCO's Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE).

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