September 06, 2017 to September 08, 2017


Paris, 6th to 8th September 2017: H.E Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology took part in the International Literacy Day held on 8th September at UNESCO headquarters in Paris under the theme: “Literacy in a Digital World”.

During the opening session, the Commissioner addressed an audience made up of more than 200 stakeholders and decision-makers from around the world: governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. The personalities who addressed the audience were: UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova who opened the conference, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development and H. E Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor.

The 2017 event focused on the following:
- Deepen understanding of what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate in a digital world and what this means for literacy teaching and learning;
- Share and analyse promising practices with regard to policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation as well as financing that advances literacy in a digital world; and
- Explore how digital technologies can support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 4, especially Target 4.6 on youth and adult literacy.
Considering that out of 750 million illiterate people around the world, 63% are women who lack basic reading and writing skills, the conference highlighted how the digital world can help close the literacy gap, evolve and monitor the necessary literacy skills needed in today’s societies.

H.E Prof. Anyang Agbor emphasized the need for collective efforts towards the achievement of a more literate world, especially in Africa where literacy challenges are acute. It is the mandatory path to follow in view of the “Africa we want” and envisioned in Agenda 2063. She further stressed the importance of literacy in AU’s efforts towards the achievement of its Agenda, particularly within the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025.

The Commissioner of HRST advised as follows: “When we consider the digital means, we should also consider non-digital means that also enhance our living; we must ensure inclusion and proper interventions in using ICT in building sustainable societies for all”. Literacy in a digital world, she said, “must be inclusive, bridging gaps, (...) it must be underpinned by respect for human rights and dignity”.

In her opening remarks, Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, emphasized on inclusion in the following terms: “There is no inclusiveness if we leave behind 750 million people who lack the basic literacy skills (...)”... There is no social cohesion if we allow young people to develop feelings of exclusion and lack of self-confidence.”

The Day ended with the official award ceremony of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes to five laureates from Canada, Colombia, Jordan, Pakistan and South Africa who presented their programmes and illustrated how digital technologies can help promote literacy and create opportunities for Lifelong Learning.

Prior to the International Conference on ‘Literacy in a Digital World, H.E the Commissioner attended the session of the Core Group of the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) within the framework of Lifelong Learning on 7 September 2017 where she addressed the floor during the opening ceremony.

GAL has contributed to the implementation of Education 2030 Agenda by supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4, Target 4.6.

H.E underlined the fact that Agenda 2063 aspires to have well educated and skilled citizens. According to the Commissioner, “The Continental Education Strategy for Africa sets out to ensure access to quality education at all levels for all, and in all possible formats.” CESA’s Strategic Objective 6 reads: « Launch comprehensive and effective literacy campaigns across the continent to eradicate illiteracy ».

As a strong contribution to this activity, H.E informed the public that the African Union will establish a CESA Thematic Cluster on Literacy which will ensure that Africa’s peculiar and well-articulated aspirations remaining a guiding frame within Agenda 2063. She called upon agencies working in the literacy area to come together.

For further information contact
Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail:
And Ms. Chancelle Bilampassi Moutsatsi I Web Site: I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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