Eradicating Illiteracy: Are We Faring Well?

Eradicating Illiteracy: Are We Faring Well?Eradicating Illiteracy: Are We Faring Well?

More than 750 million adults, including 115 million young people across the world are illiterate, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the occasion of International Literacy Day (September 8).

Recalling the global pledge to meet the 17 universal, integrated and interdependent goals on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Ban called on governments across the globe and their partners to join forces for universal literacy to translate the vision of the agenda into reality and build peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable societies.

Of the 750 million, two thirds are female. Some 250 million children of primary school age lack basic literacy skills and 124 million children and adolescents receive no schooling at all.

“Literacy stands at heart of the 2030 Agenda. It is a foundation for human rights, gender equality, and sustainable societies. It is essential to all our efforts to end extreme poverty and promote well-being for all people,” wrote Ban, the UN Information Center reported.

“The obstacles to sustainable development can and must be overcome by developing and implementing the right policies, backed up by commitment and resources,” Ban stressed. “We need to ensure that those out of school get access to quality learning opportunities, we need to improve the quality of schooling, and we need to promote adult education and learning.

 98% of Iranians Literate

Iran was an active participant in the negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and now the government is putting the goals, including elimination of illiteracy, into operation through the context of the next economic development plan (2016-2021) now under review in the Majlis.

As of September 2015, 97% of young adults (aged between 15 and 24) were literate without any gender discrepancy as against 85%, in 2008, well ahead of the regional average of 62%.

According to Ali Baqerzadeh, deputy education minister and head of the Literacy Movement Organization, the free adult literacy programs have seen a 2.5-fold increase in 2015, compared to the prior two years. At present, 98.2% of people in the age group 15-24 years and 88.47% in the age group 25-64 years have acquired reading and writing skills.

While the literacy rate among the 10-49 age group is 97%, wide-ranging illiteracy in the six provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, West Azarbaijan, Kerman, Kordestan, Northern Khorasan and Lorestan, has nudged the provincial authorities to take action in promoting literacy campaigns under local programs in each district.

Among the 3.45 million illiterates at present, around 1 million are absolute illiterates. Women constitute a larger part of the illiterate population and a considerable number have missed the chance of education for various reasons such as poverty or family traditions that do not support female education.

The office of the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs signed an MOU with the Education Ministry in 2014 to provide primary school education for at least 10% of the girls in 10 provinces. Besides, efforts were made to ease their access to learning centers and textbooks.

The plan covered 3% or 2,500 girls in the 10 provinces of Bushehr, North and South Khorasan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Golestan, Kerman, Lorestan, Markazi and Hormozgan, which have the highest number of girls who have missed primary school education.

The MOU was extended in the last academic year that ended in June and a similar scheme is planned for the upcoming academic year that starts in September.

The LMO has also cooperated with the vice-presidency to promote literacy among nomadic women and girls in East Azarbaijan, Ardebil, Fars and Kohgiluyeh-Boyer Ahmad provinces. The scheme offered education to 2,000 illiterate or poorly educated nomadic women between 10 and 49 years of age.