Each of the five winners of the UNESCO literacy Prizes will receive USD 20,000, a diploma and a medal during a ceremony that is going on at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, to mark the International Literacy Day, 8 September 2015.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has named this year’s laureates of UNESCO’s International Literacy Prizes. She did so as the world marks the 2015 International Literacy Day on Tuesday.

The prize winners are Associação Progresso in Mozambique and Sri Lanka’s National Institute of Education who received the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, while Madagascar’s Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA and Post-ASAMA received the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy alongside Juan Luis Vives School of Valparaiso in Chile and Svatobor in Slovakia. 
The five UNESCO literacy prizes were awarded by Ms Bokova on International Literacy Day celebrated every year on 8 September.

The theme for this year International Literacy Day is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. It emphasizes the critical links between literacy and the sustainable development agenda, which will be adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September. The same theme also guided the international jury which proposed the laureates to the Director-General. 

“Women and men all over the world need literacy to take charge of their lives,” said the Director-General of UNESCO. “Likewise, literacy is indispensable to raise awareness and gather necessary grass roots participation in our efforts to improve the way we care for our planet and manage its resources. This transformation can only happen if society’s most vulnerable youth and adults acquire basic literacy skills that equip them with the knowledge and confidence to improve their own lives and build more resilient communities,” Ms Bokova added. 

According to a statement by the UNESCO Press Centre, the recipients of the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes are Associação Progresso, a Mozambican nongovernmental organization recognized for its effective ‘Literacy in Local Languages, Springboard for Gender Equality’ programme in Mozambican languages. It has achieved good results by building on international standards and research, training facilitators and involving the community in designing, monitoring and improving delivery.

Sri Lanka’s National Institute of Education, is honoured for its ‘Open School Programme’, which addresses the learning needs of disadvantaged groups and offers an alternative route for out-of-school youth and adults to resume academic or technical and vocational training. It also provides continuing education to working and farming communities to improve their income generating activities. Furthermore, it takes education to the doorsteps of differently abled people who cannot attend learning centres or institutions.

The laureates of the three UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are “Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA and Post-ASAMA”, an NGO in Madagascar that developed a comprehensive approach to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by establishing partnerships between the national authorities and 66 other NGOs. The programme provides a range of literacy courses for illiterates who account for 40% of the population, technical and vocational training at all levels and supports graduates in their efforts to find employment or start their own business. It has been replicated in Burkina Faso and Chad.

‘Juan Luis Vives School of Valparaiso’, a school in Chile, is recognized for its programme Alfabetización de las personas privadas de libertad’ (Literacy for People Deprived of Liberty), which has been providing formal basic education to prisoners so as to favour their reintegration into society once they have served their sentence. The programme has been able to achieve significant results in overcoming the learning challenges experienced by many inmates.

‘Svatobor’ an Association, in Slovakia, is honoured for its ‘Romano Barardo’ programme, which helps the Roma overcome social exclusion and enjoy their basic human rights. It applies a highly innovative concept linking environmental sustainability to nutrition and vocational training. Among other activities, the programme teaches agriculture to help members of the community improve the yield of their kitchen gardens, facilitates ecological sustainability and broadens educational options for marginalized community members helping the Roma settle and become part of local communities.