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SIL presents paper at UNESCO conference in India supporting global literacy

(November 2007) The UNESCO Regional Conference in Support of Global Literacy held in New Delhi, India, brought together experts and government representatives from 14 countries in South, Southwest and Central Asia. This conference was the fourth in a series of six regional and sub-regional conferences organized by UNESCO to promote global literacy.

Ms. Catherine Young, Asia Area Literacy Coordinator with SIL, presented a paper she co-authored as part of a roundtable discussion on content and delivery of literacy programs. The paper detailed ways in which language policy and planning affect the delivery of quality education for learners from ethnolinguistic communities. The presentation emphasized that literacy skills in the language of the learner affirm his or her ethnolinguistic identity and provide a foundation that can transfer literacy learning to additional languages of education.

During the conference, Addressing Literacy Challenge in South, Southwest and Central Asia: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches, participants advocated literacy for all, and laid the groundwork for concrete countrywide support. They examined the main challenges facing the region, including funding, gender equality and the lack of literate environments which encourage parents and children to build literacy skills.

These regional conferences were the outgrowth of the September 2006 Global Literacy Conference held in New York, USA, organized by First Lady Laura Bush, Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade.

Also representing SIL at the conference were Mr. Karsten van Riezen, an SIL regional director, and Dr. Carl Grove, co-author of the paper presented by Ms. Young.

SIL is involved in language development, mother-tongue-based literacy and multilingual education in numerous countries in Asia as well as worldwide. As an international NGO, SIL has been in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations since 1997 and with UNESCO since 1993. Such relationships provide opportunities for SIL to contribute to the global dialog on language-based development.

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