Wherever we as members of the Society of the Sacred Heart are present, we are engaged in education of many kinds and at differing levels. From early childhood care and education, to formal education in schools and universities, to vocational training as well as non-formal education for the excluded and marginalized, RSCJ are educators at heart.
Our educational work often also includes basic literacy – for women who never had a chance to learn or for migrants and refugees who need to study a new language but who lack the basic reading and writing skills even in their own mother tongue. As an ingredient of education, literacy is part of our service as educators, one of the many manifestations of our “walking with humanity” towards a more inclusive and equal world.
As the cornerstone of education, literacy too is a human right and, as such, a matter of justice. Literacy means empowerment and, as our experience as RSCJ has shown repeatedly, it is the most fundamental contributor to human and social development which leads to reduction of poverty, improvement of child mortality rates, gender equality, peace, as well as other social and sustainable development gains.
In the Ministerial Declaration entitled Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education, which was unanimously adopted at the High-level segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session on July 8, 2011, governments expressed their concern about the slow progress on certain Education for All (EFA) goals. The governments, gathered in Geneva, reaffirmed
“the need to redouble efforts to drastically reduce the intolerably high number of the non-literate population, with a special focus on women, including the further implementation of the International Plan of Action for the United Nations Literacy Decade, and promote lifelong learning with the ultimate goal of preventing and breaking the cycle of low literacy and creating a fully literate world.”
These Education for All goals, six in total, were concluded at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000, and address the learning needs of children, youth and adults. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is the lead agency for the UN’s educational efforts and has a leading role in implementing the Education for All goals.
For more information about UNESCO’s work in regard specifically to literacy, please see:
the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) (UNLD) which has “Literacy as Freedom” as its motto.
the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), which serves as the framework for implementing the goals of the Literacy Decade, LIFE focuses on 35 distinct countries in which the vast majority of the world’s non-literate people live.
Cecile Meijer, rscj
NGO Office – July 2011