Welcome to the BAICE e-forum, again! Today’s discussions are facilitated by Ms. Mari Yasunaga, Programme Specialist, Section for Youth, Literacy and Skills Development, UNESCO, Paris.
Mari is a Programme Specialist, currently working in the Section for Youth, Literacy and Skills Development in the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems of the UNESCO Education Sector. Within UNESCO, she has almost 20 years of experience in the field of education and international development, especially basic education, literacy and non-formal education.
Women’s literacy and sustainable development: bridging the gap for more integrated and coordinated efforts within the education sector and beyond
Today’s e-Forum discussion is framed by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit (New York, 25-27 September 2015) to stimulate and step up the efforts of the international community over the next 15 years. Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set, education is addressed as Goal 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” with youth and adult literacy being focused as a specific target and featured by other targets. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/69/L.85&Lang=E
This means the beginning of a 15 years process that is intended to connect, meaningfully, the global agenda with policies and practice on the ground. Although adults from across the world who need to benefit most may not feel the changes overnight, this global agenda offers an opportunity to revisit the interrelations between literacy and sustainable development in order to accelerate the pace of positive transformation for them, including women with limited literacy skills.
Indeed, “Literacy and sustainable societies” was the theme of International Literacy Day 2015 and the focus of a Global Meeting that was held on 8-9 September 2015 in Paris, during which a renewed focus was given to the notion of literacy as a continuum of skills that are acquired through different learning pathways. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002344/234483e.pdf
As previously discussed in this e-Forum and elsewhere, literacy is a driver for sustainable development (e.g. poverty eradication, agriculture, health, inclusive economic growth and decent work). At the same time, progress in different areas of development does contribute to promoting literacy, generating a demand, opportunities and enabling environments for people to acquire, use and advance their literacy skills.
In enhancing this interrelation between literacy and sustainable development, generation, dissemination and use of relevant knowledge is a key. As the previous discussions highlighted, a body of knowledge is gradually expanding, including that related to the benefits of literacy for sustainable development, which however may be weaker than what we know about the benefit of education for sustainable development. The impacts of research on policies and practice, and ultimately on people’s lives, need to be greater.
In this context, I would like to invite you to reflect on how to boost more integrated and coordinated efforts of researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and other actors for adult literacy, connecting literacy and sustainable development, especially on the following.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the existing evidence base regarding the benefits of literacy for sustainable development? Do we know sufficiently about the impacts of women’s literacy on health, economic growth, environment and other areas of sustainable development?
- How could the evidence base be enhanced regarding how progress in different areas of sustainable development influence people’s motivation and readiness for literacy skills acquisition, as well as their learning and its outcomes?
- What are the kinds of partnership required to strengthen the evidence base on the interrelation between literacy and sustainable development and also to ensure that such evidence base is effectively used by policy-makers, practitioners and other actors?