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Thursday, 8 September 2011

International Literacy Day 2011

Today September 8th is International Literacy Day and the main focus on the link between literacy and peace.  On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.   UNESCO has information about this special day on their website at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/education-building-blocks/literacy/advocacy/international-literacy-day/

Without literacy, international trade will not flourish and grow, so International Literacy Day deserves the support of all of us who are involved in international trade. UNESCO has organised what is called the E-9 Initiative for the nine most highly populated countries of the "South": Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan.  The E-9 Initiative is a forum for these nine high-population countries to discuss their experiences in education, exchange best practices and monitor progress on achieving Education for All (EFA). Since its launch in 1993, the E-9 network has also become a powerful lobby for EFA and South-South cooperation.

It is worth noting that this list also includes three of the BRIC nations which have fast growing economies  and also that New Zealand was one of the first of the so-called developed nations to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with China and is currently involved in talks with India for an FTA.

A key question to be addressed in these India -NZ FTA negotiations  might be how we can help E-9 nations such as India to move out of this group with programmes that assist their efforts to achieve literacy.   Almost certainly the quality of the trade that ensues and the degree to which all involved can benefit from an FTA will be helped by basic literacy.   There is food for much thought here. 

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